E.coli Outbreaks at Publix in Florida
On September 19, Cargill Meat Solutions announced a recall of 132,606 pounds of beef. This recalled product, which consisted of 3-pound, 10-pound and 20-pound chubs of beef produced June 21, had been sent to companies such as Certified Angus Beef, Excel, Fire River Farms, Our Certified, and Sterling Silver. All affected product was labeled “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The USDA recall notice advised consumers who had purchased these products to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.
On August 30, Publix recalled Cargill beef in several Florida counties after 18 cases of E. coli were connected to its consumption. Of these illnesses, 15 appeared in Florida and one each in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Six people had to be hospitalized and one person in Florida died.
What the Tests Detected
Laboratory testing detected E. coli O26 (STEC O26) in leftover ground beef collected from the home of a Florida victim. WGS (whole genome sequencing) analysis confirmed that the strain was closely related genetically to the E. coli O26 strain isolated from the ill consumers. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service traced the incidents to raw ground beef purchased at Publix, triggering the recall.
Cargill e-mailed a statement to the Miami Herald expressing its distress to learn about the fatality and illness. The company urged people to check their freezers for affected product and throw it out to prevent possible illness.
This is not the first time Cargill had been forced to recall its product for health and safety reasons. Additional beef recalls were made in 2007 and 2010 after some consumers became ill with E.coli. The company also experienced issues with salmonella twice in 2009 and once in 2011.
What Is STEC O26 and What Are the Causes of E Coli?
There are multiple strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli). The majority of them are harmless and actually present in the intestinal system of healthy people and animals.
- E-coli O26 is not so benign. It is a variation of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). According to the Centers for Disease Control, 265,000 STEC incidents occur each year in the United States. People become ill an average of three to four days after exposure to the organism, which can result from the following conditions:
- Eating contaminated, undercooked ground beef
- Eating spinach, lettuce, or sprouts that have been washed or irrigated with E. coli-contaminated water
- Improper food handling, such as lack of proper hand washing
- Touching an infected animal (for example, at a petting zoo)
STEC O26 created an emergency condition at the end of October 2015, when health officials in Washington and Oregon announced a suspected connection between an E. coli outbreak and food served at Chipotle restaurants in both states. By November 3, Chipotle had closed 43 restaurants in both states, but by the end of December, a total of 53 cases were reported in nine states.
Symptoms of E-Coli Infection?
Most victims of STEC 026 infection experience vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea. The most severe cases can develop dehydration and kidney failure. Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for developing these complications.
Infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample, and treatment generally consists of intense rehydration and other forms of supportive care. While most people recover within a week, but in rare instances, they may develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of life-threatening kidney failure that is now known as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children.
What Can Be Done?
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we fight for the rights of clients whose lives have changed because of someone else’s negligent actions or omissions. When a supplier makes contaminated beef available to the public, it can have a detrimental effect on your present and future circumstances. For example:
- You suffer from excruciating pain
- You may lose days or even weeks from your job, resulting in lost income
- If you don’t have health insurance, you may be facing huge medical bills
- If you are pregnant, an E.coli infection can have a detrimental effect on your baby
- In rare cases, death may result
If you or someone you love has become seriously ill with an E.coli infection after consuming contaminated food, let us help. Our experienced personal injury team will protect your best interests by aggressively negotiating on your behalf and even taking your case to trial if necessary. We will not stop in our efforts to get the compensation you need to heal and make a full recovery.
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC, we will offer a free consultation to discuss your case and the possibility of pursuing legal action. Please contact us now to find out how we can help.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.