Our law firm is investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 poisoning linked to ground beef produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts. To date, the outbreak involves 7 people from 4 states: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (3), Pennsylvania (1) and West Virginia (1).
How was Adams Farm Slaughterhouse Connected to the E. coli Outbreak?
Months of investigation led to Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts.
Five of the seven people sickened in the outbreak were interviewed and answered questions about the foods they ate in the week before they had symptoms of E. coli poisoning (the incubation period for E. coli can be a week). All five told investigators that they ate ground beef in the week before they got sick.
The Traceback Investigation
When the interviews pointed to ground beef as a suspected source of the outbreak, investigators did traceback investigations to find out if the ground beef eaten by the outbreak victims had a connection. Evidence gathered in the traceback investigations indicated that people sickened in the outbreak ate ground beef which had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, according to the CDC. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Public Health collected leftover ground beef from the home of one of the seven people sickened in the outbreak and from a restaurant. The beef in both instances had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse.
Colorado sent ground beef samples from the home and the restaurant to federal laboratories to get tested. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was found in samples from both the home and the restaurant.
Every E. coli O157:H7 outbreak is caused by a genetically unique strain of the bacteria. When food is found to be contaminated with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that caused an outbreak, that food is most likely the source of the outbreak.
Genetic testing creates patterns for each E. coli isolate tested,” said attorney Ryan Osterholm. “Matching patterns are connected. This is important evidence in an E. coli lawsuit against companies that process, distribute or sell contaminated food.” Ryan has won settlements for clients in cases against Chipotle, Costco, Olive Garden and others. He is one of the few lawyers in the U.S. who practices almost exclusively in the area of food safety litigation.
A hamburger should not be scary. They don’t belong on Halloween shirts. But for 7 people, eating a hamburger will never be the same, and they may never eat one again.
E. coli causes severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody, a sign of dangerous hemorrhagic colitis. It very often causes such bad dehydration that hospitalization is required. It also can lead to a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the U.S. To date, thankfully, no one has developed HUS in this outbreak. However, even if someone who gets an E. coli infection does not develop HUS, there is an increased risk of future kidney problems, according to some medical experts.
The CDC has provided the following information about the people sickened in the outbreak. As you read it, remember that these people really suffered. They are not just statistics.
Dates of onset of illness range from June 27, 2016 to September 4, 2016. Because it takes 2 to 3 weeks for a case of E. coli to be confirmed and reported to the CDC, there may be Illnesses that occurred after September 8, 2016 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks.
The age of people sickened range from 1 to 74, with a median age of 25. Five of the seven people sickened in the outbreak were hospitalized.
Adams Farm Slaughterhouse Recall
Prompted by this outbreak, on September 24, 2016, Adams Farm Slaughterhouse recalled various cuts of beef, veal, and bison products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The recall includes products originated from animals slaughtered on:
- July 15, 25, and 27, 2016;
- August 3, 8, 10, 11, 17, 24 and 26, 2016.
These products were further processed and packed on various dates between July 21, and September 22, 2016. The products have establishment number EST. 5497 inside the USDA mark of inspection and include several lot numbers and cuts of meat. The full list can be found on the USDA website.
The recalled products were shipped to farmer’s markets, retail locations, and restaurants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and eastern New York. The products may have also been shipped to neighboring states.