A Boy Scout who was infected by E. coli O157:H7 while attending camp in Virginia filed suit today in the Circuit Court of Rockbridge County. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Zachary Yost and his mother, Devon Drew, against S & S Foods LLC. The plaintiffs are represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, and Maryland attorney Benson Klein of Ward & Klein.

In August 2008, 84 people at a Boy Scout camp near Goshen, Virginia were infected with a highly toxic form of E. coli, the O157:H7 strain. The outbreak was traced to hamburger meat manufactured and sold by S & S Foods of California. Zachary Yost attended the camp from July 20 through July 26. Yost ate hamburger meat while at camp, and fell ill on July 26. He experienced cramping, nausea, and diarrhea, which by July 29 became bloody. In the process of receiving medical care, he tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. S & S hamburger meat at the camp also tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, and the company recalled more than 150,000 pounds of meat.

“There has been a record amount of E. coli-tainted meat recalled in the last year and a half,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney William Marler. “Unfortunately, that has meant that that there have also been a record number of E. coli illnesses. Victims all over the country are suffering because of the breakdown of our meat supply safety system. Everyone deserves pathogen-free meat—in restaurants, grocery stores, and summer camp!”

E. coli is often contracted by consuming food or beverage that has been contaminated by animal (especially cattle) manure. The majority of food borne E. coli outbreaks has been traced to contaminated ground beef; however leafy vegetables that have been contaminated in fields or during processing have been increasingly identified as the source of outbreaks, as have unpasteurized milk and cheese, unpasteurized apple juice and cider, alfalfa and radish sprouts, orange juice, and even water. There have also been outbreaks associated with petting zoos and agricultural fairs.

“Zachary has yet to test free of E. coli,” continued Marler. “His body is still fighting the infection, and restricting what he can do. Meat companies need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the effects their tainted products have on consumers.”