A Pennsylvania meat facility operated by Minnetonka-based Cargill is recalling nearly 30,000 pounds of fresh ground beef after people along the East Coast reported falling ill from the effects of salmonella infection, federal officials said.

The 85 percent lean meat was sold in 14-pound "chubs" by Cargill Meat Solutions, of Wyalusing, Pa.

While the use-by date has passed and these products are no longer available for retail sale, federal officials and the company are concerned some of the product may be still be in consumers' freezers.

The meat was produced on May 25 and shipped to centers in Connecticut, Maine and New York for wider distribution.

U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first became aware of the problem while it investigated an outbreak involving 33 people in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Five of those cases were linked directly back to the Cargill facility in Wyalusing, federal inspectors said.

The FSIS has so far identified one retail outlet, the Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets chain, as having sold the meat being recalled.

In a statement, Cargill President John Keating said, "Food-borne illnesses are unfortunate, and we are sorry for anyone who became sick from eating ground beef we may have produced."

Salmonella infection can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, those with HIV and people undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within 12 to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

In 2011, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that 136 people in 34 states got sick from a salmonella strain linked to a Cargill ground turkey plant in Arkansas. One person died. Two of those who fell ill were in Minnesota.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482