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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

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Listeria Recall: Green Chile Burritos

13876313_GMore than 252,000 pounds of frozen burritos are being recalled because of possible listeria contamination.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Saturday announced the Green Chile Food Company recall for various frozen burritos containing meat and poultry, after a routine sample of a beef and potato burrito found a problem.

The Las Cruces, New Mexico-based company made and packaged the ready-to-eat foods between March 8 and May 10, and the products have the establishment number listed as EST. 21740.

The burritos were sent to sellers in California, Illinois, Oregon and South Dakota.

Hepatitis A Vaccines Urged for Consumers of Tainted Tuna Poke

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has been notified of imported frozen raw tuna or ahi cubes distributed by Tropic Fish Hawaii, LLC on Oahu that tested positive for hepatitis A. The product, imported from Indonesia, was used to prepare poke sold between April 27 – May 1 by food establishments on Oahu.

The imported frozen fish was used to prepare poke sold at Times Supermarket and Shima’s locations in Aiea, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kunia, Liliha, Mililani, Waipahu, and Waimanalo. The product was also used to prepare food served or sold by GP Hawaiian Food Catering, the Crab Shack Kapolei (also known as Maile Sunset Bar & Grill in Kapolei), Aloha Sushi at 3131 N. Nimitz, and the ABC store at 205 Lewers St. Customers who purchased and consumed the product and are not vaccinated for hepatitis A are advised to consult with their doctor about vaccination.

“Times Supermarket and Tropic Fish notified the department as soon as they learned of the test results on the imported fish,” said Peter Oshiro, chief of the DOH Food Safety Program. “All of the product is being traced, collected and held by the distributor. Fortunately, in this case, Tropic Fish Hawaii kept excellent records and has been contacting all retailers and pulling the product quickly.”

“Because it generally takes two weeks for those infected to develop symptoms of hepatitis A, vaccination or immune globulin can still provide some protection against the disease for those who may have been exposed in the last week,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. “We remind those who received their first dose of hepatitis A vaccination during an earlier outbreak on Oahu to obtain their second dose for long term immunity.”

Persons who consumed poke from the affected food establishments between April 28 and May 1 may have been exposed to hepatitis A and are advised to:

  1. Contact their healthcare provider about receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG), which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within two weeks after exposure.
  2. Monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure.
  3. Wash hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  4. Stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

Symptoms of hepatitis A infection usually appear 2–6 weeks after exposure and include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes. Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.

Testing of individuals who do not have symptoms of hepatitis A is not recommended, with the exception of food handlers who have been exposed to the disease, as required by Hawaii State law. Hepatitis A vaccine or IG, if indicated, should be administered after results of the testing are received.

DOH is working with the distributor and visiting all affected facilities to ensure proper sanitation and decontamination procedures are taken. The product is embargoed by the state until further testing is determined and coordination with federal authorities is completed.

While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent handwashing with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help to prevent infection.

Additional information about hepatitis A is at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/hepatitis-a/.

For a statewide list of vaccinating pharmacies, go to http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccines-immunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.  We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.

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

Eaten Poke in Hawaii with Hepatitis A? Get treatment with in 14 days to prevent illness!

The Hawaii DOH has warned that frozen raw ahi cubes imported to the state from Indonesia by Tropic Fish Hawaii recently tested positive for the virus. The raw ahi, which is being recalled, was used to prepare poke sold between April 27 to May 1 at several locations on Oahu.

The state said the poke was sold at Times Supermarkets and Shima’s locations in Aiea, Kailua, Kaneohe, Kunia, Liliha, Mililani, Waipahu, and Waimanalo.

The product was also used to prepare food served or sold by GP Hawaiian Food Catering and Maili Sunset Bar & Grill.

After exposure, immune globulin (IG) is 80% to 90% effective in preventing clinical hepatitis A when administered within 2 weeks of last exposure. Although efficacy is greatest when IG is administered early in the incubation period, when administered later, IG is still likely to make the symptoms less severe. Given the lack of appropriately designed studies comparing the postexposure efficacy of vaccine with that of IG, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends IG exclusively for post-exposure. Hepatitis A vaccine, if recommended for other reasons, could be given at the same time.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.

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

Los Angeles: Botulism Risk in Deer Antler Tea

la-1493436078-avuwzxsq0s-snap-imageThe Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) warns against consuming local deer- antler tea due to botulism risk. Public Health has recently identified one confirmed and one suspected case of botulism occurring in adults. Preliminary investigation suggests that these cases may be associated with the consumption of a deer-antler tea product (photos attached) that was acquired during the month of March. Pending further investigation, Public Health recommends that all persons who purchased product similar to this (i.e., deer-antler tea provided in a sealed pouch similar to the attached photographs) during the month of March, immediately dispose of it.

Public Health will provide more information as it becomes available.

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium. Classic symptoms of botulism include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and weakness. These are all symptoms of muscle paralysis caused by the bacterial toxin. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs, and trunk. In foodborne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days. The respiratory failure and paralysis that occur with severe botulism may require a patient to be on a breathing machine (ventilator) for weeks or months, plus intensive medical and nursing care. The paralysis slowly improves.

People experiencing symptoms of botulism, who have recently drunk the tea, should seek immediate medical attention.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to pesto, carrot juice and chili.

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

Jefferson City Mystery Restaurant Likely Tied to Salmonella Outbreak

The News Tribune Opinion Page today:

With the recent uptick in salmonella cases in Cole County, keep in mind precautions are more productive than panic.

As of Tuesday, 25 cases had been reported in the county. While that’s an increase from the norm, it’s no epidemic. About 78,000 people live in the county.

Of 20 cases reported the previous Friday, 13 of those affected were found to have a common denominator: They all ate at a particular restaurant.

The county health department says that alone doesn’t confirm the restaurant is the culprit, but is continuing its investigation into the outbreak.

They have asked the Jefferson City’s Environmental Health Services Division to investigate safe food-handling procedures at that food establishment, as well as others named by the affected individuals. That division inspects local restaurants.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Oyster Takedown by Norovirus

6a00d8341c630a53ef01539126936b970b-320wiFollowing reports of norovirus-like illnesses in people who report eating raw oysters from several areas in Washington and elsewhere, public health officials at the Washington State Department of Health have tracked down areas where some of the illness-linked oysters were harvested.  Over the past several weeks, small harvest closures and recalls have been ordered, the largest of which is in Hammersley Inlet in Mason County, where a recall has been issued for any shellfish harvested there since March 15. Smaller portions of the shellfish harvesting area were closed and shellfish recalled on March 2, April 4 and April 5.

The three-mile stretch of commercial shellfish growing beds is about two-thirds of the Hammersley Inlet growing area and is harvested by 31 shellfish companies. Shellfish harvested from the area is typically shipped to many states and countries. Shellfish growers and the Department of Health are working with local health jurisdictions and other states to track down all harvested product to make sure it is not available to be consumed.

“We are actively evaluating all potential pollution sources in the area to determine what is causing the contamination.  The area will remain closed until we can assure that public health is protected,” said Rick Porso, Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “This issue underscores the importance of protecting our marine water, especially in areas where shellfish are grown.”

Norovirus is a common stomach virus that spreads easily. It can be transmitted through contaminated food or surfaces and person-to-person contact. The source of norovirus is people — specifically, the feces and vomit of infected individuals.  The virus can be present in marine water indirectly through boat discharges, failing septic systems, malfunctioning wastewater treatment plants, or directly from an infected person. Because shellfish are filter feeders, they can concentrate the virus and infect individual that consume them raw or undercooked.

Norovirus symptoms include watery diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Most people get better within two days. Dehydration can be a problem among some people, especially the very young, the elderly, and people with other illnesses. For those consumers concerned about the increased risk of illness, ordering and eating cooked shellfish is an effective way to prevent norovirus illness.

Boston E. coli Outbreak Sickens 7 and Shutters Chicken and Rice Guys

0706121726Megan Woolhouse of the Boston Globe reported tonight that an E. coli outbreak had shuttered three locations of the Chicken & Rice Guys, as well as its fleet of Middle Eastern food trucks, Boston health inspectors said Tuesday.

The department confirmed seven cases of E. coli stemming from the Chicken & Rice Guys Allston location, which supplies food to the chain’s other outposts. The problems led to the temporary suspension of its operating license.

The company’s four food trucks, which rotate locations around Greater Boston, were taken off the road Tuesday afternoon.

According to Boston Inspectional Services, the city received an anonymous complaint and opened an investigation Tuesday. Public health officials remained at the Allston site throughout the afternoon trying to determine a specific source of the outbreak.

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.

Hepatitis A Spike in San Diego

Forty-two hepatitis A cases have been reported in the San Diego region since November 2016, more than four times the monthly average typically reported, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced today.

Thirty-six people were hospitalized and two died from the disease.  Twenty-three cases are men, and the cases range in age from 26 to 72 years, with an average age of 42 years.  Twenty-nine cases have a history of substance abuse, and 27 are homeless.  Five people became ill with hepatitis A after traveling outside the United States.  No common sources of infection have been identified, and investigations are still continuing.

“The County is working closely with the local health community to increase outreach to vulnerable populations to raise awareness and promote hepatitis A vaccination,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.  “Those at risk are urged to talk to their health care providers and get vaccinated for hepatitis A.”

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease. While the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended as part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule, most adults have not been vaccinated and may be susceptible to the hepatitis A virus.

Two doses of hepatitis A vaccine are recommended for:

  • All children (first dose of vaccine between 12 months and 23 months of age, and the second dose six to 18 months later)
  • Travelers to countries that have higher rates of hepatitis A (high-risk areas include parts of Africa and Asia, and moderate risk areas include Central and South America, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia)
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs
  • Homeless people who are living outdoors
  • Household or sexual contacts of hepatitis A patients
  • People with chronic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • Family members or caregivers of a recent adoptee from countries where hepatitis A is common
  • People who are treated with clotting-factor concentrates

Symptoms of hepatitis A include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, and light-colored stools.  Symptoms usually appear over a number of days and last less than two months.  However, some people can be ill for as long as six months. Hepatitis A can sometimes cause liver failure and death.

Hunt’s Chili Kits Recalled over Salmonella Risk

Conagra_Brands_Recalls_Hunts_Chili-d8a8a20e621c399b27d285c1c5685e05Conagra Brands, Inc., announced today it is voluntarily recalling a limited amount of Hunt’s Chili Kits due to the potential presence of Salmonella in the chili seasoning packet contained in the kit.  The chili seasoning used in the packet originated from a supplier who informed the company of the potential presence of Salmonella in a raw material used in the chili seasoning. Although no Salmonella was found in the finished product supplied to Conagra Brands, the company has decided out of an abundance of caution to recall the product.

There have been no reports of adverse reactions or injuries due to consumption of this product to date.  Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.  Most individuals recover without treatment.  In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.  The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

The product covered by this recall was distributed in retail stores, military commissaries and online nationwide in the U.S.; the specific product information is listed below. The product code information is stated on the bottom of the kit below the barcode. No other Hunt’s products or Conagra Brands’ products are impacted by this recall.

Item Description

UPC

MFG/Lot Code

Best By Date

HUNT’S CHILI KIT 44.8OZ

20-0-27000-42063-2

3534619500

Apr 04, 2018

HUNT’S CHILI KIT 44.8OZ

20-0-27000-42063-2

3534622200

May 01, 2018

HUNT’S CHILI KIT 44.8OZ

20-0-27000-42063-2

3534619600

Apr 05, 2018

Consumers who have purchased this item are advised not to consume it.

I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew E. coli Outbreak Update – What Shoes to Drop Next?

dropping-shoes

Next Steps:

It is likely over the coming weeks that the following will be happening or are even happening now:

  • Criminal Investigation of Dixie Dew and perhaps I.M. Healthy
  • Additional Illnesses
  • Additional Civil Lawsuits – both illness victims and commercial recall claims
  • Bankruptcy of one or both of Dixie Dew and I.M Healthy
  • Onsite visits of Dixie Dew
  • Retailers being added as defendants to the Civil Lawsuits

Outbreak Update:

The I.M. Healthy brand Soy Nut Butter paste outbreak includes at least 29 confirmed with infections from the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 across 12 states.

While the most recent illness began March 13, the CDC cautioned that additional people who became ill after March 7 might not yet be included in the case count because of the two to three weeks needed for lab confirmation and reporting. Illnesses started on Jan. 4.

Of the 29 victims, 24 are younger than 18 years old. Victims’ ages range from 1 to 57, with a median age of 8 years old. A dozen of the victims have had symptoms so severe they required hospitalization. Nine victims developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

Public health officials have interviewed 28 of the victims — or their parents — and 21 of them reported either eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter in the week before becoming ill at home; at a facility that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter; or at childcare centers that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter and I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter.

FDA Investigation:  

The FDA also has finally named and shut down the manufacturer of soy nut butter implicated in an ongoing nationwide E. coli outbreak, noting that records and employees at Dixie Dew Products Inc. revealed food safety violations going back at least 15 years.

Documents released Thursday show the FDA was investigating Dixie Dew Products production facility in Erlanger, KY, from at least March 3 in relation to the E. coli outbreak. The federal agency did not publicly name the company as the manufacturer until Thursday evening, two days after notifying Dixie Dew president Robert Carl that his food facility registration was suspended.

In an accompanying report known as a Form 483, FDA inspectors detailed filthy conditions at the Dixie Dew plant. They documented:

  • broken temperature control equipment;
  • liquid dripping from the roof in production areas;
  • an infestation of flies and larva;
  • food production tools stored on dirty, wet floors;
  • and statements from supervisors about equipment being broken for 15 years, soy paste production machines not having been cleaned since 2015, and no hot water in hand-washing sinks for two years.

“We issued the suspension of registration on Tuesday, but they had a due process period of time in which they could request a hearing — even though the suspension order was effective immediately — hence the delay in announcing,” an FDA spokeswoman said Thursday evening.

FDA officials have repeatedly cited a clause in federal law that prohibits the agency from revealing “confidential corporate information” (CCI) such as transactions between food ingredient suppliers and food manufacturers.

The SoyNut Butter Co. of Glenview, IL, had also kept secret the name of its soy paste supplier, referring to it only as a “contract manufacturer” in recent notices on the SoyNut Butter website. However, at some point Wednesday the most recent post on the SoyNut Butter website, dated March 9, was changed to say “our contract manufacturer Dixie Dew Products.”

“On March 3, 2017, Dixie Dew refused to allow FDA investigators access to the facility’s environmental sampling and production records; the FDA subsequently issued a Demand for Records under section 414 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. After receiving the Demand for Records, Dixie Dew provided FDA investigators with the necessary records,” according to FDA’s suspension notice.

“At the close of the inspection, the FDA provided Dixie Dew with a list of the investigators’ inspectional observations — Form FDA 483 — noting objectionable conditions seen during the inspection. Dixie Dew responded to the report in writing with a list of actions the firm has taken to correct the conditions; however, FDA found the corrective actions were not adequate to fully address the risks that were identified, and issued the Suspension Order to prevent further illnesses from occurring.

Specific problems noted in the suspension order and Form 483 included (blanks reflect redacted information):

  • investigators observed grossly insanitary conditions that cause your firm’s soy nut butter products to be adulterated;
  • food contact surfaces, floors, walls, and ceilings in the soy nut butter processing and packaging rooms were heavily coated with soy nut butter build-up from previous production runs.
  • firm does not routinely wash and sanitize smaller pipes, pipe fittings, gaskets, seals, “or the rubber _____ plug” when broken down following a production run;
  • firm does not conduct a kill step for SoyNut Butter product remaining in your firm’s mixing kettle leftover from a production run;
  • plant Manager stated, up to _____ may remain in the kettle overnight or weekend prior to resuming production. You and your Plant Manager stated the kettle is shut off when product remains in the kettle overnight and/or over the weekend;
  • plant manager and maintenance supervisor reported your _____ machine, used for fine mixing of the SoyNut Butter and ________, routinely shuts off during processing. Your Plant Manager stated this occurs one to two times per day and, this problem has persisted for approximately 15 years despite repeated maintenance intended to correct the problem;
  • firm monitors the SoyNut ______ with a ______ thermometer, but plant manager stated he has never verified the accuracy of this instrument;
  • you and your plant manager report, your temperature probe and chart recorder, initially engineered to verify and record _____ of product in the large mixing kettle, is not functioning properly and has not been used for well over a year.

FDA inspectors also noted problems with Dixie Dew’s food safety testing program, noting the company’s “failure to perform microbial testing where necessary to identify possible food contamination.” Inspectors found the testing materials on hand at Dixie Dew had expired in July 2016 and October 2015.

Problems in the Dixie Dew quality control lab were described in detail by FDA inspectors.

“An apparent fly infestation in your firm’s Quality Control and Product Development Laboratory was observed on 3/13/2017. Small apparent flies and fly larvae, too numerous to count, were inside an unplugged chest freezer,” according to the 483 report.

“A sealed blue plastic bag was inside the freezer and according to your plant manager, contained an egg product that became rotten when power was disconnected. The small apparent flies were observed along the laboratory counters and flying throughout the laboratory.”

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.