WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed three separate incidents of E. coli bacteria-related illness, which it traced to hamburger meat purchased at three Vons Cos. stores in central California.
sing plant in El Monte, Calif., to the three stores. A review of the facility's records is under way to determine the meat's origin and other distribution destinations, the agency said.
The contaminated ground beef was purchased several weeks ago, said USDA, and apparently prepared and eaten at home, by children, in three separate incidents.
Last week USDA issued a warning to consumers in the San Luis Obispo area to thoroughly cook ground meat. The contaminated meat was traced to Vons stores there.
Vons, based in Arcadia, Calif., has been aware of USDA's investigation since May, Reynolds said.
"Those were isolated situations," Reynolds said. "There have been no reports of any other incidences in any region.
"The three people affected were all kids, and all have been released from the hospital and none is seriously ill. All three became ill after eating undercooked beef."
Reynolds said E coli is a nationwide issue, which is the reason USDA now requires safe-handling instructions on all ground beef.
A USDA spokeswoman said in recent weeks the agency has received "sporadic" reports of illness following consumption of hamburger meat, although the agency hasn't been able to determine the source in all cases.
In late April it confirmed 21 cases of E. coli illnesses in Nebraska, which it traced to undercooked hamburger processed at Northern States Beef in Omaha and sold to various stores.
The bacteria grow in the intestines of infected cows. Proper cooking of raw ground beef will destroy the E. coli organism.