E. coli O157:H7 strikes again, this time stealing some of Santa’s thunder and delivering a pile of bad news (for the meat industry, the consumer, everybody) on Christmas Eve.  The outbreak linked to National Steak and Poultry, an Oklahoma-based purveyor of pre-portioned beef products, has sickened people in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington.  I havent’ yet seen reference to how many are thought to have been sickened in the outbreak, but a listing of six states stretching from the eastern time zone all the way to the west coast portends some bad news on that front.

There is never "down time" at Marler Clark.  We are constantly busy, sometimes almost too busy, representing people who have been sickened in E. coli and other outbreaks.  But this outbreak adds more than a few "to dos" to our lists at Marler Clark.  The epidemiological evidence so far establishes that people were falling ill in this outbreak as far back as September 09; it also suggests that we’re dealing with a possibly frozen product–i.e. one that does not necessarily have a short shelf life (all the more reason for National Steak and Poultry to heed Bill Marler’s call to release its customer list so that people don’t continue to get sick). 

I can think of more than a few people who have called me since September who were ill themselves, or were distraught over the illness of a family member.  We investigate even the illnesses of those who are not part of a recognized outbreak, but even the lawyers at Marler Clark are sometimes limited by the known epidemiological evidence.  Now, however, after announcement of the National Steak and Poultry outbreak, we’ve got a heck of a lot more to go on.  I know what I’ll be doing this afternoon, tomorrow, and into next week:  sorting through the files of probably one hundred E. coli victims who have called since September, looking for possible exposures to national steak and poultry products.   

  • Anthony

    I find it ironic that one would call this bad news for the meat industry. I suppose you could say that it hurts their profits, but this article presents the meat industry as a victim. This is no freak accident. This has been happening, and will continue to happen, because of the unsanitary conditions in which these animals live and die. The meat industry is at fault. There is no doubt, make it clear.
    Please stop “reporting” this as if it were an isolated incident. This is part of a bigger picture that few media outlets have dared put together.

  • Drew Falkenstein

    The meat industry is anything but the victim when E. coli outbreaks happen. Anthony, you are 100% right, and our long, long list of clients over the past 3 years especially are proof of that.

  • Dr John PaffrathDDS

    Common sense dictates smelling the meat to be prepared, it seems simple enough, but working at dozens of nursing homes over my career, even professional cooks omit this simple test!!!! If it smells “FUNNY” Throw it out! Don”t chance it and ruin everybody”s holiday. John Paffrath DDS

  • Dr John PaffrathDDS

    Common Sense dicatates that smelling the meat would be a simple indicator to pass along to consumers.

  • Vince

    The bottom line is s@#$! Take burgers with s@#$ on them, put them on a paper plate,remove and grill them to an internal temp of 165 F and place them back on the plate that has s@#$ residue on it. Serve them proudly to your guests and you will get s@#$ contaminated Burgers! The bottom line is why do we have s@#$ on them to begin with? Just a thought!

  • Bluestone PhD

    SCRAP HACCP !!! Let the inspectors inspect meat. You can’t eat paperwork. I do not know the truth behind this comment. But it was my understanding that NASA also used the HACCP system in their space program. And 2 of their shuttles blew up. You need hands on inspection and not just auditing paperwork. Bring back the old retired FSIS Inspectors and see what happens. We never had these kinds of recalls when these old boys were on the job.