MINNEAPOLIS – Cargill Inc. publicly acknowledged responsibility Wednesday for life-shattering injuries suffered by a young Minnesota dance instructor after she ate a contaminated hamburger, a case that has drawn national attention and helped shape the U.S. food safety debate.

The Minnetonka-based agribusiness giant and the victim of the E. coli-tainted burger, Stephanie Smith, announced that they have settled a suit filed by Smith in December. Terms weren’t disclosed, but Cargill, one of the nation’s largest beef producers, agreed to cover Smith’s care for the rest of her life.

Smith, 22, had asked for $100,000 in compensatory damages, plus payment of past and future hospital bills.

The Cold Spring woman lost use of her legs, bowel and bladder after eating the burger in 2007. The hamburger was contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, a bacterium blamed for a spate of food recalls in recent years.

In October 2007, Cargill recalled 845,000 pounds of ground beef patties made at its Butler, Wis., plant and sold under the label, Sam’s Club American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.


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