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Cargill Sues Meatpacker Over 2007 Recall

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 5:09am

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. filed a federal lawsuit Friday against an Omaha meatpacking plant that it says supplied tainted beef that sickened dozens of people.

Cargill said it bought beef trimmings from Greater Omaha Packing Company Inc. and turned them into ground beef for sale to the public. About 845,000 pounds of the beef was voluntarily recalled in August 2007 after four Minnesota children got sick from E. coli.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha said Greater Omaha Packing violated the terms of its sales agreement with Cargill by providing bad meat.

A message left Friday for an executive with the meatpacking plant wasn't immediately returned.

The lawsuit requested a jury trial and seeks unspecified monetary damages to cover the costs of the recall, lost profits, damage to reputation and attorneys' fees.

Cargill's insurance company is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit seeking unspecified monetary damages to cover the costs of the recall, lost profits, damage to reputation and attorneys' fees. New York City-based American Home Assurance Company said it should be compensated for paying the people who got sick.

The voluntary recall included frozen ground beef patties processed at Cargill Meat Solutions' plant in Butler, Wis., in mid-August 2007 and distributed nationwide to stores, restaurants and other institutions.

The recall was issued after the Minnesota Department of Health traced the children's illnesses to the beef. Cargill spokesman Mike Martin said the tainted meat was linked to at least a few dozen illnesses, including those in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Tennessee. The illnesses ranged from mild to serious, but no deaths were reported, he said

Symptoms of E. coli illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea. People typically are ill for two to five days but can develop complications, including kidney failure.

Cargill Meat Solutions is an arm of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., handling all its beef, pork and turkey business.

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