In the category – "when it rains it pours," the Minnesota Department of Health announced today that four E. coli O157:H7 cases linked to frozen ground beef patties purchased at Sam’s Club stores in August and September.  According to the Departments Press Release:

State health and agriculture officials are investigating four cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection in Minnesota residents associated with eating ground beef patties purchased from Sam’s Club stores in August and September.

Routine monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that the cases of illness were caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint. All four cases were related to pre-made frozen ground beef patties purchased at Sam’s Club stores in the Twin Cities metro area. The people became ill between September 10 and 20 after consuming the meat. The brand name of the implicated frozen ground beef patties was “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.”

All four cases were children. Two of the cases developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and were hospitalized. One case has been discharged and one remains hospitalized.

“The Sam’s Club stores currently involved include the Eagan, Maple Grove and White Bear Lake stores. However, we can’t be certain that meat from other stores is not involved, since the brand of implicated frozen ground beef patties was likely sold at other Sam’s Club locations,” said Heidi Kassenborg, Acting Director of the Dairy and Food Inspection Division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).

American Chef’s Selection Angus frozen Ground Beef Patties that were purchased on or after August 26, 2007 from a Sam’s Club store, whether still in the refrigerator or freezer, should not be used, but should be discarded or returned to the store, officials said.

We have already been contacted by two of the families.  It will be interesting to see who produces “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties" and where it is produced.  UPDATE – Well that didn’t take long, Minneapolis AP this morning wrote:

Sam’s Club pulls beef patties after E. coli illnesses reported

The Sam’s Club warehouse chain has pulled a brand of ground beef patties from its shelves nationwide after four children who ate the food, produced by Cargill Inc., developed E. coli illness. Cargill on Friday asked customers to return any remaining patties purchased after Aug. 26 to the store or destroy them. Cargill, based in Wayzata, Minn., is one of the nation’s largest privately held companies and makes food ingredients, moves commodities around the world and runs financial commodities trading businesses.

Wikipedia facts about Cargill

* As of 2007, it is the second largest privately owned company in the USA.
* In fiscal year 2007, Cargill declared revenues of $88.3 billion USD, and earnings of $2.34 billion USD.
* It is responsible for 25 percent of all United States grain exports.
* It supplies approximately 22 percent of the United States domestic meat market.
* It employs over 158,000 employees at 1,100 locations in 66 countries.
* The company exports more products from Argentina than any other company.
* It is the largest poultry producer in Thailand.
* All of the eggs used in McDonald’s restaurants in the United States pass through Cargill’s plants.