National Steak and Poultry

It is Sunday, February 7, 2010; fifteen full days since Daniele Inc announced a recall of its salami products; and almost as long since the companies and investigating health authorities involved have either suspected or known that the ultimate source of illness in this large, and possibly growing outbreak, is black pepper.  But we, the

The unfortunate trend for E. coli and beef in late 2009 and 2010 continues.  This evening, West MissourI Beef, LLC, a Rockville, Missouri beef company, recalled 14,000 pounds of boneless beef products due to potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination.  Today’s recall brings the tally for recalled beef due to E. coli contamination to 1,636,000 pounds of beef

Counting Friday’s sausage recall by Daniele International, Inc., food companies have recalled at least 2,880,000 pounds of meat products since November 2009 due to contamination by E. coli or Salmonella. 

Friday’s recall:  (from FSIS press release)

Daniele International Inc., an establishment with operations in Pascoag and Mapleville, R.I., is recalling approximately 1,240,000 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE)

 Today’s announcement by USDA-FSIS of another beef recall due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination bodes poorly for this new year.  Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, LLC., an Athol, Mass., establishment, is recalling approximately 2,574 pounds of beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.  The recall occurs in the wake of an epidemiological

The Meat Trade News Daily misses only a couple major food safety issues (i.e. outbreaks) in yesterdays summary of ten major food stories in 2009.  In the blog post, titled "USA – Food Safety a Bloody Disgrace," MTND includes: 

1.  Stephanie Smith’s E. coli O157:H7 and HUS illness from eating a contaminated Cargill ground beef patty.  Stephanie has sued Cargill for

In 1999, the USDA-FSIS asked the National Advisory Comittee for Microbiological for Foods whether tenderized beef presented increased risks of contamination by E. coli O157:H7.  The answer, of course, was that it does, and that risks to consumer health increased correspondingly.  See Recommendations

This is not surprising, of course, nor is it particularly newsworthy

Every time an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak occurs, we get yet another reminder how devastating the bacteria can be, particularly when it causes hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  See  And every time we represent a young child with HUS, I am reminded of the story of Regan Erickson, who was sickened in the spinach E. coli outbreak in September 2006 (We represented over 100 victims, including nearly 30 who suffered kidney failure and hemolytic uremic syndrome). 

Tiffany and Russ Erickson were just like most Americans until September 2006. Their four-year-old son Regan (pronounced "Ree-gun") was one of many young kids whose future was unalterably and forever changed by spinach. What appears below is Regan’s story. It is a little long, but that must be forgiven. Regan’s illness very nearly cost him his life.


Regan’s mother, Tiffany, and his sister, Emma, were both sickened during the Spinach outbreak as well. Tiffany actually fell ill first, on August 28. It felt like cruel timing, given that it was only three days before Emma’s birthday and little more than a week since discovering that she was pregnant with her third child, Maggie, but Tiffany took everything in stride. She had no reason to suspect that she was dealing with anything more than a run-of-the-mill flu, and her primary concern was with the health of her unborn child.

After twenty-four hours or so, however, thoughts began to change about the nature of Tiffany’s illness. Her bouts of diarrhea had grown more frequent and severe, and her abdomen was beset by cramps more severe than labor pains. Then, the evening of August 29, after a particularly painful bout of diarrhea, Tiffany noticed that the toilet bowl was streaked with blood. Up until this point, Tiffany had endured everything with resolute confidence, but this symptom suggested something that she had never before reckoned with.

Tiffany soon underwent a diagnostic procedure called an endoscopy to shed light on what was wrong. Of his wife’s illness, before his thoughts turned to Regan alone, Russ recalls:

We left the urgent care facility and gave the drugs some time to work, but the pain continued to be unbearable. As my concern shifted from the baby to Tiffany I couldn’t stand seeing her in that much pain, tired from lack of sleep, and not able to get comfortable.

Meanwhile, Regan had begun to develop symptoms, and Emma soon would. “We didn’t realize that the illnesses could be related,” Russ recalls, “since Regan couldn’t express his pain as well as Tiffany. He just knew his ‘tummy’ hurt and he began having diarrhea.” Emma’s symptoms began the very next day, September 1.

Russ recalls:

Everyone in the family was sick, tired, and the children being so young, not knowing how to tell or deal with the symptoms like diarrhea, I was continually cleaning, comforting, and helping where I could, all without Tiffany’s help who is usually the stalwart caregiver. We knew that we had some kind of ‘bug’ but not how severe yet. It presented a lot like flu symptoms, but we began to know it was more serious as the kids, just as Tiffany, began to have blood in their stool, and then blood instead of stool. That is a scary, unnerving experience to see blood when your 3 and 4 year olds are using the bathroom.

Compared to four year-old Regan, the illnesses that Tiffany and Emma Erickson suffered were nothing more than a small current in a raging sea. Nevertheless, to hear Russ describe what his wife and daughter endured is to fully comprehend the aggressive nature of this virulent pathogen. Emma endured many days of an illness more acutely painful than anything her parents had ever seen. But as sick as she was, her older brother was fast-becoming critically ill, and her parents thoughts and attention soon went solely and exclusively to Regan.

Continue Reading Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and E. coli O157:H7

Certain circumstances surrounding the National Steak and Poultry E. coli O157:H7 outbreak have me worried.  The pathogen is incredibly dangerous; the vehicle (non-ground beef products) is often not cooked to a high enough temperature to kill E. coli; many of the beef products recalled are frozen, thus extending the shelf-life, putting more people at risk

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