Our food safety legal team at Pritzker Hageman law firm tracks all foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S., including the current E.coli O157:H7 outbreak that has been tied to romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region in California. Attorneys on our food safety legal team have been particularly concerned about the unusually large numbers of patients who have been seriously ill.
“This outbreak could easily end up being one of the more dangerous E.coli outbreaks we have seen in recent years. The percentage of people being hospitalized and developing serious complications is much greater than usual.”Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker
Rate of Serious Complications Appears to be Much Greater Than Normal
E.coli O157:H7 is particularly dangerous because it produces Shiga-toxin, which can cause both intestinal damage and a blood disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure. Typically, HUS occurs in only a small percentage of cases in Shiga-toxin producing E.coli outbreaks.
As of November 26th, the CDC has identified 67 victims linked to the current outbreak, including 39 hospitalizations and six HUS cases. This alone is three times the average rate of HUS expected from an E.coli O157:H7 outbreak. Our food safety attorneys have been contacted by a number of additional HUS victims who have not yet been included in the official count, leading our team to conclude that this strain of E.coli is likely more virulent than usual. This means that consumers, especially children and the elderly, have a significantly higher risk than otherwise expected for contracting E.coli-HUS.
Faster Action Must be Taken to Protect the Health and Lives of Consumers
The risk of serious illness from products contaminated with E.coli is considerable enough in any situation to warrant fast action by the CDC, FDA, and local health departments. This outbreak, on the other hand, underscores the fact that the risk can be even greater when a particularly virulent strain of E.coli is involved.
Despite the fact that romaine lettuce has been the food source of many multi-state E.coli outbreaks in the last few years, including a nationwide recall just before Thanksgiving last year, the leafy green industry has been slow to adopt the types of tracking systems needed to speed up the traceback process. If these tracking systems were in place and streamlined, investigators would be able to quickly track where contaminated products came from and ended up. These tracking systems could save the health and possibly the lives, of many people.
“Despite multiple recalls related to this outbreak, there is likely still a lot of E.coli tainted product sitting on store shelves, in people’s homes, and especially in institutional refrigerators and freezers. We need to improve the speed at which investigators are able to trace these contaminated products back to their source and we need to be able to identify every product that might be affected. Once contamination has occurred, quickly identifying affected products is the only way to protect people from further infections.”Fred Pritzker
Our award-winning E.coli lawyers are representing people in multiple states who have been sickened in this outbreak, including one person with HUS. We have successfully represented clients in many of the worst E.coli outbreaks in the country for the past 30 years, including what is believed to be the largest E.coli verdict in U.S. history.
Our E. coli lawyers have won millions of dollars for people sickened by contaminated food.
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