E.coli cases linked to one source; Investigators hunt for supplier

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Investigators continue to look for the source of the E.coli outbreak that has sickened about 3 dozen people in Ohio and Michigan. Ground beef is one source. The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture say a sample of ground beef that tested positive for E-coli is linked genetically to the strain that made people sick. The next step is to find out the meat’s original source.

Now that the state Departments of Health and Agriculture know at least one source of the E-coli, it’s time to try to trace back the ground beef to the supplier.

A Central Ohio person sickened from E-coli handed over a sample of ground beef purchased from a Kroger Marketplace in Gahanna. It tested positive for E-coli and is genetically linked to 17 of the 19 cases in the Central Ohio as well as some cases in Michigan.

But Ohio Department of Health spokesperson Kristopher Weiss said people did not have to shop at the Gahanna store to get sick.

“There are potentially other sources out there of tainted beef and people shouldn’t, we don’t want people to think well I didn’t shop at that particular store so therefore everything’s fine,” Weiss said.

Kroger’s Columbus Division food safety manager Gina Nicholson said the tainted sample was sold in patty form. She said Kroger has not taken any meat off its shelves for two reasons – one there’s been no recall and the other…

“Given the short shelf life of the product, this particular product is no longer available in our stores,” she said.

Nicholson said anyone who may have ground beef in their freezer purchased from Gahanna Marketplace between May 21 and June 8 should discard it or return it for a refund.

Weiss said Ohio has about 140 cases of E-coli each year. The majority of them are unrelated.

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