Our law firm has filed a lawsuit against Costco Wholesale Corporation and Taylor Fresh Foods, Inc. (“Taylor Farms”) for a client who contracted an E. coli infection after eating “Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad” made with celery and onion blend made and distributed by Taylor Farms. The suit (not a class action) was filed by the food safety attorneys at Pritzker Hageman law firm in the United States District Court for the District of Montana.
“Through this case, we hope to shed light on where, when, and how celery contaminated with deadly E. coli bacteria reached so many consumers,” said our legal team. “Our hope is this and other cases we are handling will help stop this from happening again.”
The Facts of the Case
On October 18, 2015, Plaintiff purchased a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad from the Costco Wholesale store in Bozeman, Montana. The lawsuit alleges the salad purchased by Plaintiff was manufactured by Costco using a Taylor Farms celery product.
On November 2, 2015, Plaintiff developed symptoms of an E. coli infection, including bloody diarrhea, according to the complaint. She sought medical treatment. Testing allegedly determined she had an E. coli O157:H7 infection.
The E. coli Outbreak Linked to Costco Chicken Salad
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff’s illness is part of a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad. As of November 30, 2015, 19 people from 7 states have allegedly been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, including at least 6 in Montana and 2 who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.
In November of 2015, the CDC and state health departments, including the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, were alerted to a cluster of illnesses related to the same strain of E.coli O157:H7. The connection was made with genetic subtyping of E.coli O157:H7 samples. This testing, known as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (“PFGE”) creates PFGE patterns—akin to genetic fingerprints—for each sample.
Interviews of ill individuals linked the cases to the consumption of “Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad” purchased from Costco wholesale stores. As part of the investigation, the Montana Department of Health tested a “Celery and Onion Diced Blend” used in the Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad linked to E.coli illnesses. The test on the Celery and Onion Diced Blend was positive for E.coli O157:H7. Further epidemiological investigation and traceback revealed that the source of the contamination was celery distributed and sold by Taylor Farms.
On November 26, 2015, Taylor Farms recalled multiple products containing celery that had been distributed to the following:
- King Sooper
- Sam’s Club