Header graphic for print
Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

Subscribe to the Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Section RSS Feed

South Weymouth and Newton Massachusetts Whole Foods Recalls Hamburger After At Least Three Sick with E. coli O157:H7

Second Outbreak and Recall Since 2008.

Whole Foods Market is recalling 368 pounds of ground beef products from two of its Massachusetts stores because of potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Friday morning at 2:00AM.

Subject to this recall are 73 lbs. of ground beef products produced June 21 at the company’s South Weymouth, Massachusetts store and 295 lbs. produced June 8 and 10 at the store in Newton, Massachusetts. The list of products can be found here.  The recalled products were wrapped in brown butcher paper or were in plastic-wrapped trays with Whole Foods meat department scale labels on them.

The recall was announced after three cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection were confirmed in Massachusetts in June, although FSIS stated that additional laboratory tests were not done until this week.

In August 2008, Whole Foods announced a voluntary ground beef recall involving potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination in products supplied by Coleman Natural Beef and processed by Nebraska Beef. Whole Foods then pulled products sold over an approximately two-month period in 2008 from its stores in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

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.

Remembering an FDA Scientist Who Made a Difference – Dr. Erick Snellman

By Michael R. Taylor and Samir Assar

One year ago this week, our FDA team was touring farms, food processing and packing companies, and irrigation systems in the Pacific Northwest to hear the concerns that growers and others have about certain standards in the Produce Safety rule that FDA proposed in January 2013.

The proposals of particular concern were those related to the irrigation water that makes it possible for farmers to maintain acres of lush farmland in a mountainous desert.

With us during that trip—as we walked through fields, shared meals with farmers and engaged in frank conversations—was Dr. Erick Snellman, a microbiologist and expert in the safety of agricultural water and microbial contamination of produce.

No one was more engaged than Erick in working with these growers on the best way to keep the irrigation water safe for use on crops that feed families in the United States, and all over the world. This was not just a job to him. He was passionate about using his knowledge to safeguard public health, to give families like his confidence in the safety of the foods they eat.

This week our colleagues gathered again, this time in suburban Maryland, to join Erick’s family and friends in honoring his life. On Saturday, Aug. 9, Erick died of cancer after a courageous battle over the last several months.

Erick wanted to make a difference, to do the right thing, and he did. FDA would not be able to meet its public health mandate without Erick and others who have made this mission their life’s work.

Michael R. Taylor is FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine

Samir Assar, Ph.D., is the Director of FDA’s Produce Safety Staff

Massachusetts Whole Foods Recalls Hamburger after at Least Three E. coli Illnesses

Whole Foods Market locations, South Weymouth, Mass. and Newton, Mass., are recalling 368 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

125 lbs. of the following ground beef products produced on June 8, 2014 at the Newton, Mass. location are subject to recall:

  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT” with SKU 90013
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT FAMILY PACK” with SKU 90247
  • “BEEF SIRLOIN Patty  93% LEAN / 7% Fat” with SKU 90088
  • “BEEF GROUND 93% LEAN / 7% FAT” with SKU 90035
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT patty FAMILY PACK” with SKU 52179
  • “BEEF GROUND 85% LEAN 15% FAT” with SKU 90004
  • “BEEF GROUND 85% LEAN 15% FAT FAMILY PACK” with SKU 90037
  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 96363
  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value Pack” with SKU 52162
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 95997
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value pack” with SKU 52190
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 GRASS FED” with SKU 95195
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 PATTIES GRASS FED” with SKU 95196
  • “BEEF BURGER GRASS FED GOURMET FEATURED” with SKU 52871

170 lbs. of the following ground beef products produced on June 10, 2014 at the Newton, Mass. location are subject to recall:

  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT” with SKU 90013
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT FAMILY PACK” with SKU 90247
  • “BEEF SIRLOIN Patty  93% LEAN / 7% Fat” with SKU 90088
  • “BEEF GROUND 93% LEAN / 7% FAT” with SKU 90035
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT patty FAMILY PACK” with SKU 52179
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93/7 PATTIES NE” with SKU 90199
  • “BEEF GROUNDSIRLOIN 93/7 NE” with SKU 95051
  • “BEEF GROUND 85% LEAN 15% FAT” with SKU 90004
  • “BEEF GROUND 85% LEAN 15% FAT FAMILY PACK” with SKU 90037
  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 96363
  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value Pack” with SKU 52162
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 95997
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value pack” with SKU 52190
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 GRASS FED” with SKU 95195
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 PATTIES GRASS FED” with SKU 95196
  • “BEEF BURGER GRASS FED GOURMET FEATURED” with SKU 52871

73 lbs. of the following ground beef products produced on June 21, 2014 at the South Weymouth, Mass. location are subject to recall:

  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 96363
  • “BEEF GROUND PATTY 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value Pack” with SKU 52162
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED” with SKU 95997
  • “BEEF GROUND 90% LEAN GRASS FED, Value pack” with SKU 52190
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 GRASS FED” with SKU 95195
  • “BEEF GROUND 85 15 PATTIES GRASS FED” with SKU 95196
  • “BEEF BURGER GRASS FED GOURMET FEATURED” with SKU 52871
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% Lean 7% fat”  with SKU 90013
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT FAMILY PACK” with SKU 90247
  • “BEEF SIRLOIN Patty 93% LEAN / 7% Fat” with SKU 90088
  • “BEEF GROUND 93% LEAN / 7% FAT” with SKU 90035
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93% LEAN 7% FAT patty  FAMILY PACK” with SKU 52179
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93/7 PATTIES NE” with SKU 90199
  • “BEEF GROUND SIRLOIN 93/7 NE” with SKU 95051

FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on June 25, 2014. Working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between ground beef purchased at Whole Foods Market and this illness cluster. Based on epidemiologic investigation, 3 case-patients have been identified in Massachusetts with illness onset dates ranging from June 13, 2014 to June 25, 2014. While the onset of illnesses was in June, on August 13, 2014, additional laboratory results provided linkages between the 3 MA case-patients and ground beef purchased from Whole Foods. Traceback investigation indicated that all 3 case-patients consumed ground beef purchased from 2 Whole Foods Market prior to illness onset. FSIS is continuing to work with state and federal public health partners on this investigation to determine a common source and will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Salmonella Chia Toll: 31 in U.S. and 63 in Canada

Today the CDC reported an increase to a total of 31 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (20 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (4 persons) were reported from 16 states.  Five ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that organic sprouted chia powder was the likely source of this outbreak.  As a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds were issued.

In Canada, four strains of Salmonella were associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport, Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 63 cases were reported in British Columbia (14), Alberta (10), Ontario (35) and Quebec (4). Twelve cases were hospitalized; nine cases were discharged and have recovered or are recovering. No deaths were reported.

As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued food recall warnings for various products containing chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturally Organic, Pete’s Gluten Free, NoorishSuperfoods, MadeGood, and Dietary Express. These products were recalled and removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

VR Green Farms’ Jarred Sauces Linked to Botulism Sicknesses

Brie Zeitner of the Plain Dealer reports that two people in Ohio have been hospitalized with botulism that public health officials suspect is connected to a nationwide recall of VR Green Farms’ jarred sauces.

The two Ohio patients, both Cincinnati residents in their 20′s, were each on ventilators at one point but are improving, according to the Cincinnati Health Department. One patient is still on a ventilator and was transferred last week to an acute long-term care facility, Dr. Steven Englender, director of the department’s Center for Public Health Preparedness said in an email. The other patient is breathing unassisted and “may have been discharged by now,” he said.

Preliminary testing by the Cincinnati Health Department found evidence of Clostridium botulinum type B in a meal of pasta that contained the recalled pesto sauce. The lab is still awaiting confirmation of those results.

VR Green Farms of San Clemente, CA, is voluntarily recalling a variety of its jarred food products because they may have been improperly produced, therefore making them susceptible to contamination by Clostridium botulinum.

The recalled products include Pine Nut Basil Pesto, Pickled Farm Mix, Old World Tomato Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Tuscan Grilling Sauce and Pasta Sauce. Photographs of these products can be found here. The products were sold at the VR Green Farms stand in San Clemente, CA, and via the Internet to consumers throughout the United States.

Marler Clark Retained to Investigate E. coli O157 Outbreak on Minnesota Chippewa Reservation

22 sickened so far; Source of illnesses likely Elders Picnic on July 17

 Marler Clark, a Seattle-based law firm specializing in food safety, has been retained to investigate the source of an E. coli O157 outbreak on the Fond du Lac Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation near Duluth, MN. Robert Danielson, a resident of Cloquet in Carlton County, reached out to Marler Clark after becoming one of now 22 people sickened in the outbreak.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced earlier this week that it was investigating the illnesses as well —which reportedly first began on July 17. With several recent community events on the reservation—powwows, picnics, potlucks, and outdoor meetings—it has been difficult to nail down the source.

Working with MDH, Marler Clark’s own investigative team, which includes epidemiologists who are well-trained in finding the causes of foodborne outbreaks, is now in the process of confirming the source: the Elders Picnic held on July 11 at the gymnasium of the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School.  Within days of the picnic, multiple tribal members, including Danielson, fell ill.  Danielson’s illness eventually required emergency medical attention.

Often, finding the source of a foodborne illness outbreak can be challenging even when a common event or location can be isolated. In this case, there were several events that fell within the window of infection that those who became ill attended. Add to this, like most close-knit communities, all of these events involved food either made by a caterer or brought in potluck-style.

“Weddings, picnics, potlucks, parties—they’re all notorious breeding grounds for foodborne illness,” said Bill Marler, Marler Clark founding partner. “It doesn’t matter if the food is catered or made in the host’s kitchen—both have an equal chance of making guests sick. ‘Home-cooked’ might sound delicious, but if basic food safety rules, like cooking to the appropriate temperature or avoiding cross contamination, aren’t followed, it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Marler has been on the front lines of food safety for more than two decades. Some of his first related clients stemmed from the outbreak E. coli O157: H7 traced back to the fast food chain Jack in the Box in the early 1990s.  More recently, he represented Minnesota-native Stephanie Smith whose dreams of being a dancer were shattered after she ate a hamburger tainted with O157: H7.

Fond du Lac health officials have urged reservation residents who brought home food from an event in the last several weeks to throw these leftovers away.

Anyone who becomes ill with E. coli O157 should contact the Department of Health. Symptoms of E. coli O157 can include stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and fever. More severe cases—usually found in children and the elderly—can cause Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, a potentially life threatening disorder.

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.

Walmart’s Salsarita’s Sickened 275 with Shigella – Lawsuit to Follow

Lawsuit Filed Today.

Salsarita’s Restaurant in the Walmart Home Office Café in Bentonville has reopened following a Shigella outbreak that made 275 sick in nine states according to the Benton County Health Department.  According to the Arkansas State Health Department dozens of employees were also ill with Shigellosis.

The Benton County Health Department conducted an inspection on June 18, shorty after people started getting sick.  Inspectors found nine violations on that inspection.  Of those nine violations, five were marked priority, meaning they were concerns that needed to be fixed fast.  Some violations included, employees not washing their hands or touching cooked food without wearing gloves.  The report said raw chicken had been dripping on bottled drinks.

On a follow-up inspection on June 23, inspectors found seven violations, some of them the same as the previous inspection.

After the outbreak, Eurest, the third-party company in charge of managing the kitchen, hired a quality assurance manager and will retrain staff on the company’s safety protocols.

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. Persons with shigellosis in the United States rarely require hospitalization. A severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old.

Delida and James Groom live in Connecticut.  Mr. Groom is active duty with the U.S. Navy.  They have a 1-year-old daughter.  In June 2014, Mrs. Groom and her daughter traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit Mrs. Groom’s parents.  While in Arkansas, on Friday, June 13, 2014, Mrs. Groom attended a luncheon that included multiple foods from the Walmart Home Office Café, including chips, salsa, and other items produced at the Salsarita’s restaurant located in the Café.

The following evening, June 14, 2014, Mrs. Groom began to feel slightly fevered, light-headed, and nauseated.  The symptoms continued throughout the night.  On June 15, 2014, Mrs. Groom developed severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a high fever.  On June 16, 2014, Mrs. Groom’s fever continued to rise, and the other symptoms continued unabated. This prompted her to go the Mercy Urgent Care in Rogers, Arkansas.  Once she arrived, Mrs. Groom learned that she could not be seen for approximately five hours.  As a result, she left the urgent care facility.

Mrs. Groom and her daughter were scheduled to return home on June 17, 2014.  Unaware of the increasingly dire nature of her health crisis, Mrs. Groom elected to make the trip despite her symptoms.  Her mother agreed to make the long drive back to Connecticut with Mrs. Groom and her daughter.  During the first day of the trip home, Mrs. Groom’s symptoms caused them to have to stop frequently at rest areas, gas stations, and other facilities with restrooms.  Early in the day she noticed that her bouts of diarrhea had turned bloody.

The evening of June 17, 2014, Mrs. Groom’s episodes of diarrhea contained almost pure blood and no stool.  At this point, she and her daughter and mother were in the state of Indiana and were frightened and did not know what to do.  Mr. Groom was on active duty with the Navy and had learned of his wife’s dire circumstances and was frightened for the well-being of his wife and daughter.

Ultimately, Mrs. Groom decided to call her primary physician in Connecticut and received instruction to go to the nearest emergency hospital.  Thus, early the next morning, June 18, 2014, Mrs. Groom was seen at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenefield, Indiana.

In the emergency department at Hancock Regional, Mrs. Groom was diagnosed with hypokalemia, which is a potassium deficiency caused by her immense gastrointestinal losses, as well as a dangerously low blood pressure.  Her fever also had continued to rise.  It was increasingly clear that the Shigella bacteria Mrs. Groom consumed on the contaminated food items manufactured and sold by the defendants had found its way into her bloodstream, causing her to develop sepsis.  Mrs. Groom was experiencing septic shock.

Mrs. Groom was admitted to the intensive care unit and quarantined, due to her likely infectious state.  Upon admission, it was also found that Mrs. Groom’s rectum had prolapsed, again due to the repeated, violent bouts of diarrhea that she had suffered for multiple days.  She was in severe pain and was medicated with morphine.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Groom’s mother kept Mr. Groom apprised of his wife’s declining health.  Mrs. Groom’s mother obtained a hotel room close to the hospital, where she stayed with Mrs. Groom’s 1-year-old daughter, who had also begun to suffer from gastrointestinal illness.

Mrs. Groom remained in the intensive care unit through the afternoon of June 21, 2014.  During her stay, she submitted a stool sample that tested positive for Shigella.  She ultimately was discharged against the advice of her doctors, who felt that she was not well enough to continue the long journey home.  Nevertheless, Mrs. Groom needed to get home to her family, and her young daughter needed to be home as well.  Thus, Mrs. Groom and her mother and daughter continued the drive home, arriving on or about June 23, 2014.

Mrs. Groom continues to suffer from the effects of her severe Shigellosis illness.  Her gastrointestinal function remains impaired and highly uncomfortable.  Also, approximately 3 weeks after the onset of her initial gastrointestinal symptoms, Mrs. Groom developed pain and swelling in multiple joints throughout her body, including both knees, ankles, and hands, her right elbow, and her neck.  This condition is known as reactive arthritis.  All of these medical problems were proximately caused by the Shigellosis infection.

Further, at the time that she tested positive for Shigella, Mrs. Groom learned from public health officials that she could not care for children or family members due to her infectious state.  This meant that she, a wife and mother, could not cook meals for her family or participate in the many activities of daily living that she had always enjoyed.  Nor could she provide nanny or babysitting services for a local family that had employed her to do so.  During the time that she was positive for Shigella infection, all of the household activities that she could not do had to be done by her husband, who also worked full time as an active duty diver for the U.S. Navy.  Mrs. Groom continues to be limited in her physical activity due to the ongoing effects of her illness, including the reactive arthritis.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Shigella outbreaks. The Shigella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Shigella 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 Shigella lawyers have litigated Shigella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as tomatoes, airplane and restaurant food.

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

Another Cyclospora Outbreak?

Federal officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now stepping in to assist health officials in 13 states in investigating a spike in cases of Cyclosporiasis, according to CIDRAP. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the parasite Cyclospora.

In total, 125 cases have been reported with no lead on a source.

At least 61 cases have been found in Texas alone. The other states with cases are: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.

Officials aren’t yet calling this an outbreak since it is unclear whether all of the cases are related.

Patients are currently being interviewed about international travel, with 19 so far reporting that they had recently traveled internationally, while another 35 had not. Cyclospora is more common in some tropical countries.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea, as well as loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and bloating. If not treated, these symptoms may last anywhere from days to a month or more, with the potential for relapse.

Last year, a Cyclosporiasis outbreak linked to imported salad mix and fresh cilantro sickened 631 people in 25 states.

Previous Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to imported fresh produce such as lettuce, salad mix, snow peas, raspberries, cilantro and basil.

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Florida Resident Sickened By Hepatitis A from “Organic Antioxidant Blend” Purchased at Costco

Plaintiff is one of 162 people in western U.S. States who have fallen ill from the product

 Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of California on behalf of plaintiff Karen Echard, who was sickened with hepatitis A (HAV) after consuming “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, ” a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix purchased at a Costco retail store. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the product to be the cause of the outbreak. Co-counsel on the case are respected California attorneys Frederic L. Gordon and Richard R. Waite. The suit’s case number is CV14-05281 JAK (VBKx).

As of October 28, 2013, a total of 162 ill persons infected by HAV have been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (23), California (79), Colorado (28), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (11), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2). There were 71 hospitalizations and no known deaths.

Plaintiff Karen Echard is one of those sickened with HAV by the product. The Osecola County, Florida resident became ill on May 21, 2013 after consuming the product she purchased at Costco in April 2013. This was before the HAV outbreak was known and Costco had removed the product from store shelves. The fruit mix she purchased and consumed was imported, manufactured, distributed, and sold by defendants Costco, Townsend Farms, Purely Pomegranate, Fallon Trading, and United Juice. Costco stores removed the product from store shelves on or about May 31, 2013. As of the time of the filing of her complaint against the defendants, Karen was still recovering from her HAV infection.

“Many people think that healthy foods are not susceptible to HAV and other foodborne illnesses, but that is just not true,” said Bill Marler, who has been working to help improve food safety standards since representing victims of the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak in the early 1990s. “Healthy foods are just as prone to these illnesses as milk and eggs.”

Hepatitis A, which causes severe gastrointestinal illness and, in severe cases, liver failure and death, incubates in the human body for between 15 and 50 days. Many people with hepatitis A don’t experience any symptoms at initial onset, but if they do these can mimic the flu. Once the disease hits the liver, victims can experience severe stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice, itchy skin, body aches, and general weakness. The infection can continue for weeks or months.

“It is always very hard learning about an HAV outbreak, especially since it is so easy to eliminate the threat. Hepatitis A is a serious disease, but it’s also the only foodborne illness that is vaccine-preventable,” Marler said.

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.

Romaine Lettuce Likely Cause of E. coli Outbreak in Arizona, California, Texas and Washington

We have filed two lawsuits to date and represent about a dozen of the ill.

The CDC reported on December 11, 2013, a total of 33 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from four states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (1), California (28), Texas (1), and Washington (3).  32% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, was the likely source of this outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections.

On June 17, 2014, the California Department of Public Health Report concluded that:

An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections occurred in October and November of 2013, affecting 33 individuals in four western states.  The outbreak disproportionately affected California residents, accounting for 85 percent of all case-patients. Two varieties of prepackaged RTE salads produced by “Company A” (Atherstone Foods – Glass Onion Catering) and sold by “GCA” (Trader Joe’s) were implicated as the source of infection.  This is supported by the statistically significant association of case-patients with consumption of one of the two implicated “GCA” salad varieties and by the regional distribution of reported cases matching the regional distribution of these two salads.  No other food items or exposures were associated with illness.  While these salads were strongly associated with the outbreak, the exact source of the contamination remains undetermined.

Today the Food and Drug Branch – Emergency Response Unit – of the California Department of Public Health produced the Environmental Investigation of an E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in October 2013 Associated with Pre-packaged Salads. The report 28 pages long with several hundred pages of attachments, traces the consumption of the salads to the possible source of the E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

This report not only implicates the two varieties of prepackaged salads noted above, but also two others – one produced by Atherstone Foods – Glass Onion Catering – and another produced by an unnamed manufacturer in Oakland – both for sale at Walgreens.

The investigators concluded that the one common item between the two manufacturers and the four salads was romaine lettuce from a single filed in Modesto, California grown shipped by Ratto Bros., and grown by Lake Bottom Farms, LLC.  Five of 44 environmental samples collected in areas around the implicated farm tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, however, the “positive samples were not a genetic match to the outbreak strain” – not a match to the ill people.

I found an interesting notation regarding audits (name of auditor redacted by CDPH) – this is on page 14 of the report:

Ratto Bros. also underwent routine audits from a third party, _____. The most recent _____ audit before the implicated romaine harvest was on August 8, 2013 (Exhibit B). The audit was performed on Ranch 6, 9, and 10 and the audit evaluated two areas, food safety management system requirements and good agricultural practices requirements. The firm had received a total score (before corrections) of 95.91% out of a possible 100%. The area where Ratto Bros. lost points in the audit was in good agricultural practices. They were marked down because there was animal activity (birds) on Ranch 6 during the audit, there were three dogs observed on land adjacent to Ranch 6, a water source was accessible to animals, and a water source was not free from a contamination issue (vegetation). The final _____ audit score was recalculated after corrective actions were performed by Ratto Bros. The final score was 99.32% out of 100% due to the fact that not all of the firm’s corrective actions were accepted by the _____ auditor. The corrective action that was not accepted by the _____ auditor was the non-conformance related to animals having access to the water source (open canal). The firm had taken measures to ensure that water used for irrigation, washing of equipment, and mixing of pesticides remained free of contaminants by filtering the water from an open source, chlorinating, testing regularly, maintaining equipment to ensure that it was not a source of contamination to the water source, and employing personnel and a security company to patrol the ranches. The aforementioned measures were not accepted by the _____ auditor, thus not allowing the full score of 100% to be reached. (Exhibit C).

Here are all Attachments and Exhibits.  We have filed five lawsuits to date and represent about a dozen of the ill.

E. coli:  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.