Reports of central Ohio residents sickened by E. coli began to accumulate in mid-June, worrying public-health workers who began in earnest to look for a cause.

At the same time, Nebraska Beef executives were finding that samples of meat were positive for the sometimes-deadly bacteria.

But no meat was pulled from the food supply, and no warnings were issued until June 25. It was July 3 by the time the company recalled 5.3 million pounds of its meat.

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