June 18, 2019

Lawyer Asks: Why Are There Ground Beef E. coli Outbreaks?

This afternoon, amidst the ongoing ground beef E. coli O103 outbreak affecting much of the east-central United States, I began my weekly meal preparation ritual. I went to the freezer and grabbed two pounds of frozen ground beef, defrosted it, and put it in a frying pan to brown. My family of four goes through so much ground beef that I regularly fill my freezer with a “quarter of beef” raised by my father and processed by a local butcher shop. We live on it. My family’s subsistence on ground beef is not uncommon. For 2018, Americans were projected to eat 222.2 pounds of meat and poultry, each. According to the self-proclaimed “best information source” of the beef industry, Beef2Live.com: “Ground beef is the most widely consumed beef product among American consumers. It is estimated … [Read more...]

How is Ground Beef Contaminated with E. coli Bacteria?

E. coli outbreaks are typically associated with certain foods. There have been Shiga toxin-producing E. coli outbreaks linked to raw milk, raw sprouts, ground beef, and leafy greens in the past few years. A 2015 study found that most E. coli outbreaks are linked to beef. But how is ground beef contaminated with E. coli bacteria? The type of E. coli bacteria that causes serious human illness is called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). That means the bacteria make a toxin that makes you very sick when it gets into your bloodstream. The government classifies these pathogens into two main groups: E. coli O157:H7, and the non-O157 serogroup, which includes E. coli O26, O111, O103, O121, and O145. All together, those six account for 75% of all STEC infections in the U.S. So how … [Read more...]

How Do You Know If You Have an E. coli Infection?

If you contract an E. coli infection, the symptoms are unmistakeable. Because of the toxins the pathogen produces, and how it attacks the body, patients know they are really ill. All pathogens are assigned a "multiplier" by public health officials. The number is chosen based on how many people actually go to a doctor when they contract food poisoning. The multiplier for Salmonella infections is 38, because not many people need to see a physician when they are ill. The multiplier for E. coli infections is 2. That means that half of all E. coli infections are reported to public health officials. The main symptoms of E. coli infections are: Very severe and painful abdominal cramps Bloody and watery diarrhea Mild fever Those symptoms usually begin three to … [Read more...]

Utah STEC Outbreak Investigated; Petting Zoos and Farms Studied

Public health officials in Utah are investigating an increase in Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections (STEC) in that state, according to the Utah Department of Health. The source of this Utah STEC outbreak has not been identified, but some patients said they visited farms, corn mazes, and petting zoos before they got sick. This is nothing new. In the past few years, there have been several E. coli outbreaks linked to those types of attractions. Food safety attorneys Fred Pritzker and Ryan Osterholm warned the public years ago about the potential danger at agricultural tourism venues. Ruminant animals, such as goats and cows, carry E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria in their intestines, and those animals do not get sick. The bacteria are shed in the animal's feces, which … [Read more...]

E. coli Lawyer Discusses Romaine Lettuce Outbreak

E. coli lawyer Fred Pritzker is representing people sickened in the deadly E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) HUS outbreak that is linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. We asked him about the outbreak. "With almost 200 people sickened across the country, this is the largest E. coli outbreak of 2018," says attorney Pritzker. Eighty-nine people sickened in the outbreak have been hospitalized. "The CDC is reporting 26 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, referred to as HUS, associated with this outbreak. HUS damages the kidneys and often causes renal failure," says Pritzker. "The pain and suffering associated with these cases is off the charts." Five people have died, and Pritzker says these families should contact an E. coli lawyer about a wrongful death lawsuit. The … [Read more...]

E. coli HUS Outbreak Linked to General Mills Flour Highlights Risk of Raw Flour

Consumption of raw flour can lead to E. coli HUS infections, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, titled "Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) Infections Associated with Flour," looks at the 2016 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour. That outbreak was caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O21 and O26 bacteria. The CDC investigation ended on September 29, 2016 and stated that "Although the outbreak investigation is over, illnesses are expected to continue for some time. The recalled flour and flour products have long shelf lives and may still be in people's homes. Consumers who don't know about the recalls could continue to eat the products and get sick." At least 63 people in 24 states were infected with the outbreak … [Read more...]

Raw Milk Products Cause 840 Times More Illness Than Pasteurized Milk

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases report for June 2017, unpasteurized milk products cause 840 times more illness and 45 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized milk products. Only about 3.2% of the population consume raw milk, and 1.6% of consumers eat raw cheese, but those products cause 96% of the illnesses linked to contaminated dairy products in this country. The number of states that allow raw milk sales increased to 30 in 2011, from 21 in 2004. Consumption of unpasteurized dairy products is becoming more popular, and this raises public health concerns. The bacteria in these products that have caused serious illness and death include E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria monocytogenes. This increase … [Read more...]

E. coli Research Will Continue at University of Nebraska

An E. coli research program that has led to improved detection methods and food safety education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with continue.The $25 million project is investigating Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strains that can contaminate beef. The project began in 2011. This type of bacteria can cause serious infections, which can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in some cases. HUS can cause kidney failure and death. The project is in its final phase. It has also improved eradication techniques for meat-packing pants and has given scientists a better understanding of how the bacteria grows and proliferates. Dr. Rodney Moxley, a professor of veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences at the University and the project director said, "the whole goal is to … [Read more...]

Grassfields Cheese Recalled for E. coli; Associated With Outbreak

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is warning the public not to consume Grassfields Cheese, because it may be contaminated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria (STEC). About 20,000 pounds of organic cheeses are being recalled. The cheese was sold from the firm's retail store at 14238 60th Avenue in Coopersville, Michigan to wholesale and retail customers. The cheese was also sold nationwide through the company's website. The cheese is associated with a STEC outbreak that has sickened at least seven people between March and July 2016. All of those sickened have the same outbreak strain of E. coli bacteria. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Geagley Laboratory confirmed the presence of STEC bacteria in a sample of … [Read more...]

More Details on Whatcom County, WA E. coli Outbreak

The Whatcom County Health Department is investigating a STEC (Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli) outbreak associated with the Milk Makers Fest at the Northwest Fairgrounds on April 21 through April 23, 2015. Six cases have been identified so far; five are of primary school children who attended the event. Public health officials are interviewing the children who attended the event and their parents to try to pinpoint the food, water source, or activity that caused the illnesses. The department is also monitoring to make sure the illness doesn't spread from person to person. If any person goes to a doctor with diarrhea, a stool culture will be taken. Any positive E. coli results will be reported to officials, since this is a reportable illness. Three of the five children had stool … [Read more...]

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