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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Are we seeing a return of Red Meat E. coli Cases?

Recalls of Red Meat and Illness have been linked to United Food Group in Los Angeles, California, Creek Meats in Kalamazoo, Michigan, PM Beef Holdings of Windom, Minnesota, Richwood Meat Co. in Merced, California, HFX Inc. of South Claysburg, Pennsylvania and the Meat Market in Fresno, California.  I spoke with the Denver Post and the Portland Oregonian yesteerday about the rash of recent recalls and illnesses.

E. coli beef recall expanded
United Food Group says 370,000 more pounds may be tainted

For Bill Marler, a Seattle- based product-liability attorney who represents plaintiffs in E. coli contamination cases, the recall is "cause for concern."

Marler said that up until a few years ago, surges of early- summer E. coli cases from meat were almost an annual occurrence. But from 2003 to 2006, Marler said he had few, if any, meat-related cases. Spinach and lettuce had taken meat’s place, he said.

This year, contamination seems to be on the rise, he said.

"If it was just one case, I’d be less concerned that history was repeating itself," Marler said. "But I’m very worried that at least five companies are recalling meat, none of them related to each other, and they’re spread out over 60 days."

E. coli again rears its sickening head
Beef handling improved in recent years and outbreaks

Between 1990 and 2004, 171 E. coli outbreaks in ground beef sickened roughly 3,400 people. Seattle attorney Bill Marler built the most prominent foodborne-illness practice in the country primarily on the strength of such cases.

But during the past several years, as the meat industry has adopted handling practices to minimize contamination, Marler said meat-related E. coli legal cases have all but disappeared.

Between 2000 and 2005, microbiological testing of ground beef showed that positive samples of E. coli had fallen 80 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Obviously, we’re seeing this issue come up again, and I’m hoping it’s an aberration and not a trend," Marler said Thursday. "I’m getting more worried as the numbers keep going up."