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E. coli Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on E. coli News & Outbreaks

Wolverine Packing E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – Multi-state (2014)

In late April 2014, public health and agriculture officials at the federal, state, and local levels initiated an outbreak investigation after receiving reports of reports of persons who had lab-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections.[1] Ultimately, a total of twelve persons from four states were identified as having been infected with the outbreak strain, which was identified by the PulseNet Pattern Identification Number EXHX01.0096/EXHA26.015. The number of infected persons in each state were as follows: Massachusetts (1 case-patient), Michigan (5 case-patients), Missouri (1 case-patient), and Ohio (5 case-patients).  The dates of illness-onset ranged from April 22 to May 2, 2014. The age of persons infected ranged 16 years to 46 years, with the median being 25 years. Seven patients (58%) were known to have been hospitalized, although no one died. The outbreak investigation was assigned CDC Cluster ID 1405MLEXH-1.

In interviewing the case-patients, public health officials found that eleven of the twelve (92%) reported eating ground beef prepared as a hamburger at a restaurant before becoming ill.  Officials conducted multiple traceback investigations of the ground beef used at restaurants where case-patients had reported dining. These investigations identified ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company as the source of the ground beef and thus the outbreak.

On May 19, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef that was potentially contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.[2]  This was a Class I Recall, which means that FSIS deemed the risk to the public health “High.” The ground beef had been shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant-use nationwide. The recalled ground beef bore the establishment number “EST. 2574B” inside the USDA mark of inspection and had a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”

Marler Clark has filed one lawsuit to date.

E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.


[1]           See CDC Final Outbreak Report, http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2014/O157H7-05-14/index.html

[2]           See FSIS New Release, “Michigan Firm Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Possible E. coli O157:H7,” http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2014/recall-030-2014 .

Trader Joe’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – California (2013)

Marler Clark represents a dozen of the ill – including two that developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  Several lawsuits have been filed to date.

In October and November 2013, local, state and federal public health officials investigated an outbreak of E. coli O157 experienced by patients residing in four states, Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington.  Epidemiologic and traceback investigations identified two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations as the source of the outbreak.  On December 11, 2013, the outbreak was declared to be over.  At that time a total of 33 persons with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157 had been identified.  This strain, assigned PulseNet pattern identification numbers EXHX01.0589/EXHA26.3182, had not been seen before.  Thirty two percent (32%) of ill persons were hospitalized.  Two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  No deaths were reported.

Public health investigators interviewed ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before illness.  Nineteen (86%) of 22 ill persons interviewed reported shopping at different Trader Joe’s grocery store locations.  Twelve (80%) of 15 ill persons reported consuming ready-to-eat salad purchased from Trader Joe’s stores.  The two implicated salads, the Field Fresh Chopped salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, were consumed by 12 (80%) of 15 ill persons interviewed.

On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products.  Approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully cooked chicken and ham were recalled to due possible contamination with E. coli O157.  The products were produced between September 23, 2013 and November 6, 2013, and shipped to distribution centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.  These were products regulated by USDA FSIS.[1]  In a related recall announcement on November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering recalled additional ready-to-eat salads and wraps regulated by the FDA.  These products had “Best By” dates of September 23, 2013 through November 14, 2013.

Evergreen Sprout E. coli Outbreak Litigation – Multi-state (2014)

Marler Clark represents several victims and to date has filed four lawsuits.

Public health officials in California, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Washington collaborated with their federal partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O121 that occurred in May 2014.  A total of 19 persons with the outbreak strain, identified by PulseNet PFGE Pattern Identification Numbers EXKX01.0011/EXKA26.0001, were reported.  Among persons for whom information was available, dates of illness onset ranged from May 1, 2014 to May 20, 2014.  Ill persons ranged from 11 years to 52 years.  Seven of 16 persons for whom information was available were hospitalized.  No ill person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by public health officials implicated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Hayden, Idaho as the likely source of this outbreak.  Thirteen (81%) of 16 ill persons reported eating raw clover sprouts in the week before becoming ill.  Ill persons in Washington and Idaho reported eating sprouts in sandwiches at several local food establishments including several Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches locations, the Pita Pit, and Daanen’s Deli.

As part of the investigation the FDA performed a traceback analysis and determined that Evergreen Fresh Sprouts supplied sprouts to seven restaurants with outbreak associated cases.  This analysis used documents collected directly from the distributors and the grower, Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, as well as documents collected by the states from the points of service.

The FDA conducted several inspections at the Evergreen Fresh Sprouts facility in May and June.  During the inspections FDA investigators observed a number of unsanitary conditions, including condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves, a rusty and corroded watering system in the mung bean room, tennis rackets (used to scoop mung bean sprouts) that had scratches, chips and frayed plastic; a pitchfork (used to transfer mung bean sprouts) that had corroded metal, and a squeegee (used to agitate mung bean sprouts inside a soak vat) that had visible corroded metal and non-treated wood.

On June 26, 2014 the FDA and CDC held a meeting with the owner of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts to advise the firm of FDA’s concerns that the seed lot used to row clover sprouts linked to this outbreak might be contaminated and to encourage Evergreen Fresh Sprouts to discontinue using that seed lot.  The owner of Evergreen Fresh Sprouts agreed to stop using the suspected lot of seeds.  On August 1, 2014 the CDC declared the outbreak over and published a final outbreak summary on-line at http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2014/O121-05-14/index.html.

Coco Loco E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – Texas (2013)

Beginning in late April 2013 at least 10 people were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after eating at Coco Loco Mexican Restaurant located in College Station, Texas.  Five individuals were laboratory confirmed with E. coli O157:H7; five others were not laboratory confirmed with the pathogen but had symptoms clinically consistent with an E. coli O157:H7 infection.  Two brothers, Noah and Jack Mellon, were hospitalized.  According to media reports the Brazos County Health Department conducted an outbreak investigation, concluding that the source of the outbreak was ground beef served at Coco Loco.

Brazos County Health Department director, Dr. Eric Wilke, was quoted as saying “The two most likely things [as the source of the outbreak] are either someone touched raw meat and then their hands didn’t get clean and they touched other things and that’s how it transmitted bacteria or some meat was undercooked.” Dr. Wilke noted that the restaurant was making changes to improve safety by adding gloves and logs for food temperature.

Marler Clark represents one adult and two children.  The children both developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Kentucky Issues Raw Milk Warning After Children Fall Ill

The Kentucky Department for Public Health is warning consumers about the dangers of consuming unpasteurized milk as well as other products that could lead to disease-producing E. coli infection, following a recent outbreak in North Central Kentucky and the hospitalization of four children.

DPH has been working with local health departments, hospital and the provider community to investigate the outbreak. Four of the five children associated with the cluster developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a disease caused by the most severe E. coli infections which may result in life-threatening kidney failure.

“At this time, we know that all of the children consumed unpasteurized milk, which is different from the milk and dairy products you purchase at the grocery store,” said DPH Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. “Unpasteurized milk is dangerous and has not undergone a process to kill bacteria before it is consumed, meaning it could contain disease-causing agents such as E. coli. The health of anyone who drinks unpasteurized milk can be affected if they are exposed to E. coli or other bacteria that can cause very serious illness, but the risk is even greater for children.”

Is Raw Milk Link in Kentucky E. coli Outbreak?

Five Kentucky children were being treated at Kosair Children’s Hospital on Friday for a potentially life-threatening syndrome usually caused by E. coli O157:H7 infection, and the state health department has launched an investigation into how they got sick.

“There is a cluster of children with” hemolytic uremic syndrome,” said Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “We don’t know the source at this point.”

Three of the sick children are from Hardin County, one is from Oldham County and one is from Boone County. Fisher did not know their ages, but said they are very young. All remained hospitalized Friday September 12..

Kentucky Hit with E. coli caused hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)

As of Tuesday, four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering E. coli O157:H7 infections. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown and the Kentucky State Department of Health.

According to news reports, the first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause.  There is a possibility of a sixth case as well.

“We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified,” said Keown.

The children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder.  The children range in age from 18 months to six years.

Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties.

It’s possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that’s not likely.

Hardin County, Nelson and Oldham Counties Report E. coli Cases

According to the Kentucky Health Department, five Kentucky children have been diagnosed with Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, or HUS, likely caused by E. coli O157:H7.

The Department for Public Health said there are three cases in Hardin County and one each in Nelson and Oldham Counties. All the children are currently hospitalized.

Kosair Children’s Hospital released this statement at noon on September 13:

Several children from several different counties in Kentucky are being treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome at Kosair Children’s Hospital. In children, this syndrome is most often caused by E. coli O157:H7 infection. We have notified the state health department, which has begun an investigation.

V&T Meat, Hiep Thanh Trading Appear E. coli Link to 152 Sick

V&T Meat and Food, Calgary, Alberta and Hiep Thanh Trading, Edmonton, Alberta, are recalling certain raw pork products from the marketplace due to possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

Consumers, food service establishments, retailers, distributors and manufacturers in Alberta, should not consume, serve, use, or sell certain raw pork products sold by these two retailers/distributors because the raw pork products may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

The affected raw pork products have only been distributed in Alberta.  All raw pork products sold from these locations, during the identified time periods, are affected by this recall.

These raw pork products may have been sold by other retailers. Consumers who are unsure if they have the affected products are advised to check with their retailer.

This recall was triggered by the E. coli O157:H7 foodborne outbreak investigation led by Alberta Health Services (http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/10353.asp) and supported by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) that has sickened 152.

Applebees Popular with Cabbage and E. coli

Minnesota State health officials have identified green whole head cabbage as the likely source of an E. coli O111 outbreak that sickened 15 people in Minnesota in July.  The cabbage was likely contaminated at some point prior to distribution to restaurants.

Routine monitoring by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) identified the 15 cases of illness associated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O111. Bacterial isolates from all of the cases had the same DNA fingerprint. This genetic strain of E. coli O111 had not been seen in the United States previously.

MDH investigators were able to interview 14 of the cases: 13 of them ate at 9 different Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota, and one ate at Yard House.

Many cases had reported eating the Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebee’s, leading Applebee’s to voluntarily and out of an abundance of caution pull the menu item and specific ingredients from the salad from their menu for a time. It was returned to the menu after Applebee’s obtained different sources for the ingredients.

The common food item across all foods consumed by cases was green whole head cabbage.

Minnesota officials traced the cabbage to a common supplier outside of Minnesota and continue to work with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate its source. The FDA examination of the potentially involved farms is still ongoing.

Single cases of illness that match the outbreak strain have occurred in three other states.

The illnesses occurred between June 25 and July 3. Four of the people who became ill were hospitalized and all have recovered. No new cases connected with this outbreak have been identified in Minnesota since July 10.