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E. coli cases prompt massive ground beef recall

A Detroit meat packing company is recalling 1.8 million pounds of ground beef after it was linked to nearly a dozen potentially dangerous E. coli infections in four states, federal agriculture officials said Monday.

Wolverine Packing Co., issued the voluntary notice early Monday, pulling ground beef products produced between March 31 and April 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Ground beef in a meat department of a supermarket.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ground beef in a meat department of a supermarket.

At least 11 people are sick in four unnamed states with E. coli O157:H7 infections, FSIS officials said. That's a potentially dangerous germ that can cause severe food poisoning, and, in some cases, a deadly complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable, health officials say.

Wolverine meat products were shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The ground beef was not used in federal Department of Defense programs, the National School Lunch Program or in catalog or internet sales, officials said.

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FSIS was notified of the illnesses on May 12. Working with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they detected a link between the Wolverine products and E. coli O157 cases that occurred between April 22 and May 2.

The agencies are continuing to pursue the investigation. It was not immediately clear why federal officials did not disclose the states in which illnesses were reported.

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E. coli O157 can cause dehydration, nausea, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Most people recover within a week, but HUS can lead to kidney failure and death in some cases.

The recalled products bear the establishment number "EST. 2574B" and have production date codes between March 31 and April 18. For a list of recalled products, check here.

—By JoNel Aleccia, NBC News

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