Agribusiness giant Cargill is recalling more than 14 tons of ground beef as a salmonella outbreak has sickened dozens of people in seven US states.
CBS News reports that Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling 29,339 pounds (13,308 kg) of fresh ground beef as 33 people in seven states-- Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont-- have reportedly been sickened by salmonella bacteria.
The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Sunday that Cargill was recalling packages of 85 percent lean ground beef produced on May 25, 2012 and sold wholesale and to retailers for processing and consumer sale.
FSIS said that the beef was sold at Hannaford supermarkets in the Northeast in late May and early June. Although the use-by dates on the packages of affected meat have passed, FSIS cautioned that they may still be in homes.
Hannaford told the Associated Press that it has alerted its customers to check the dates on ground beef for use-by or sell-by dates between May 29 and June 16.
Cargill issued a statement saying an investigation is underway to determine the source of the salmonella contamination.
"Food borne illnesses are unfortunate and we are sorry for anyone who became sick from eating ground beef we may have produced," the statement read. "Ensuring our beef products are safe is our highest priority and an investigation is under way to determine the source of salmonella in the animals we purchased for harvest and any actions necessary to prevent this from recurring."
Consuming salmonella contaminated food can cause life-threatening bacterial infection in infants, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. The illness, which can last as long as a week, is treated with antibiotics.
This is the third major Cargill recall in the last year. Last summer, the company recalled more than 36 million pounds of ground turkey as a 31-state salmonella outbreak sickened more than a hundred people and killed one. That was followed by the recall of 185,000 additional pounds of ground turkey after salmonella was detected again.
It was later revealed that US government inspectors had discovered the potentially deadly form of salmonella at a Cargill turkey plant in 2010 but took no action until after someone died from eating the contaminated meat.