July 17, 2019

Toledo Was a Hub in the 2014 Wolverine Beef E. coli Outbreak

Toledo E. coli cases from Wolverine ground beef accounted for more than half of Ohio’s confirmed illnesses in the 2014 outbreak that also hit Michigan and other states. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department confirmed three cases, including two people who ate at the same restaurant. The local health agency investigated a fourth instance of E. coli infection at the time of the outbreak, but it was determined not to be associated with the particular outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was making other people sick. In all, Ohio recorded five illnesses traced to ground beef from Detroit’s Wolverine Packing Company, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

E coli bacteriaThe Toledo case patients were ages 19, 23 and 42 and at least two of them were hospitalized. Two of the three Toledo area residents ate at the same restaurant, local officials said. State and federal health investigators also studied this outbreak, eventually counting five case patients in Ohio, five in Michigan, one in Missouri and another in Massachusetts. One of the other Ohio case patients was a student at Kent State University. In Michigan, it was a college student in Kalamazoo County who filed the first Wolverine beef E. coli lawsuit.

In Ohio, the beef was sold at Gordon Food Service (GFS) Marketplace locations across the state, and at Buchtel Food Mart in Buchtel. The name of the restaurant where the Toledo patients ate was never disclosed. The outbreak was dealt a knockout punch on May 19 when the Wolverine Packing Company recalled about 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that USDA judged to be possibly contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia Coli O157:H7.  “Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company was the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections,” the CDC said.

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