Cargill is recalling more than 25,000 pounds of ground beef produced at a plant in Colorado that may be contaminated with E. coli.
After reviewing records Wednesday afternoon, workers at the company's Fort Morgan, Colo., plant realized some product associated with an E. coli-positive test may have already been distributed into the marketplace.
Cargill Meat Solutions — a Wichita-based subsidiary of Cargill Inc., based in Minnetonka — notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the contamination and issued a recall Thursday evening.
While Cargill is not a household brand, it is one of the world's largest beef producers, slaughtering nearly 20 percent of all U.S. cattle and selling the meat to a large base of retail and food service customers. The affected product was shipped to a retail grocer's distribution warehouses in Denver and Tracy, Calif.
The USDA is working with the unnamed retailer to determine what stores and locations may have received the potentially contaminated meat. The agency will compile a list of product names for consumers and will post it on its website, www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls, when it's available. The agency said it is "concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers' refrigerators or freezers."
No illnesses have been reported. E. coli 0157 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Symptoms usually appear within a few days of exposure and while most people recover, it can lead to kidney failure.
Young children and older adults are the most susceptible to this type of kidney failure, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. It is often accompanied by easy bruising, a paler skin tone and decreased urination.
"At Cargill, food safety is a top priority. That is why, out of an abundance of caution, we initiated a voluntary recall of 25,000 pounds of ground beef today," the company said in a statement Friday. "We are working closely with the USDA and the retailer to alert any consumers that may have purchased this product."