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.