Erika Boehlke was hospitalized in September 2005 at the Albany Medical Center Hospital with hemolytic uremic syndrome, caused by E. coli O157:H7. After interviewing her parents, it was determined that a possible source for the infection could be hamburger meat.

In late August, Erika had eaten a Topps brand quarter pound beef patty that was cooked on the grill at the Boehlke home. Since there were leftover uncooked patties at the home, the Albany County Health Department was able to conduct a test on the meat.

Testing showed that the hamburger meat was indeed contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Investigators then attempted to trace back the Topps frozen hamburger patties to source the origin of the contamination.

Although the Boehlkes were certain that the hamburger patties had been purchased at either a Wal-Mart or PriceChopper store, investigators were unable to locate any product at either store with the same barcode as the contaminated product.