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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Cargill and its subsidiaries have had E. coli problems in the past, and I am really not that old

It was a bit cold and rainy on Bainbridge Island today as I watched my eight-year-old daughter, Sydney’s, soccer game. You see at 50 I don’t feel old – my wife is younger and my three daughters are very young. So, I was a bit disturbed that the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) would send me a membership card in the mail today. As I cut the card into several dozen pieces and burned it in the fireplace, I smiled to myself and thought – well, at least I am not Cargill. I might be getting older, but at least I did not sicken four little kids in Minnesota over the last month and have to recall nearly 1 million pounds of meat even after it proclaimed in 1995 that the “End to E coli is found.”

Really, Cargill did. In an article in the New York Times, Cargill and Frigoscandia announced that they “had developed a method to eliminate virtually all disease-causing bacteria in beef, pork and poultry. The process was to use a blanket of steam to pasteurize the surface of carcasses and could be easily inserted into meat-processing lines, the two companies said. The main target of the new technology was E. coli O157: H7.” What the hell happened?

August 2000 – Cargill Implicated In 1993 and 2000 Sizzler E. coli Outbreaks – Lawsuit filed

In the summer of 2000 Cargill meat was found to be the source of the Milwaukee Sizzler E. coli outbreak that sickened 62 people and killed one child. We represented many of the victims. In 1993 Cargill was also implicated in an E. coli outbreak in Oregon that sickened nearly 100. In both instances the contaminated beef originated at Cargill’s meat plant located in Fort Morgan, Colorado.

July 2001 – E. coli lawsuit filed against Cargill on behalf of injured child

We filed suit against Cargill on behalf of a young child who became seriously ill after eating a hamburger patty contaminated with E. coli.  A month earlier, Cargill issued a voluntary recall of 190,811 pounds of ground beef and ground pork it manufactured at a Newnan-based meat packaging plant and then supplied to Kroger supermarkets in southeast Georgia. According to a Washington Post-Dateline NBC Report, an Excel plant located in Fort Morgan, Colorado, was cited 26 times from September 1999 to July 2000 for fecal contamination of meat. Also, according to a June 26, 2001 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Excel’s parent company, Cargill, recalled 16.7 million pounds of cooked, ready-to-eat turkey and chicken products in December to safeguard against potentially fatal Listeria contamination.”

2002 – Lawsuit filed against Cargill

We filed another E. coli suit against Cargill. This time on behalf of several women who were sickened along with 57 others traced to Cargill’s Peck Meats Packing division in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. These illnesses led to a 400,000-pound ground beef recall on October 1. That recall was expanded to 2.8 million pounds on October 3. Cargill closed its Peck Meats plant on October 3, but issued a new recall of 568,000 pounds of fresh beef on October 10.

So, you see I might be getting older, but at least I am not Cargill.

  • Fear not! All these meat recalls will soon be a thing of the past. Our wonderful USDA has a plan that will punish all those bad farmers who raised that tainted beef! Called NAIS(national animal identification system), it will require evil ranchers to be under more surveillance than illegals, drug dealers or child molesters. All those who own even one cow, pig, horse, chicken or other farm animal will be required to register their premises, microchip each critter, no matter if it is a pet or potential food. Then they must, under threat of huge fines, file birth, death and movement reports (within 24 hours) on every last critter on the place. If animal disease is even suspected in an area, the USDA can go in and kill all the animals. The purpose of this oh-so-wonderful-thanks-for-protecting-us program is to provide 48 hour traceback should a disease be suspected. The only problem with this program is that e-coli happens after the cow is slaughtered, which is when NAIS tracking stops. The beef is most vulnerable to being tainted in those processing plants. And the fact the majority of beef is raised by corporate agriculture, who will not be required to tag and track each animal because they raise them in lots, they they get only ONE number per groups of animals. Any one of those critters in that group could be diseased and who would know. But as long as there are appearances of something being done, the city dwellers will eat in peace, while granny and her few egg hens will be tracked closer than the illegals everybody is making such a fuss about and that will make our beef supply oh so safe. See nonais dot org for more info on the true impact NAIS will have on all of us who eat!

  • Stein

    It’s time to go after Cargill again, but this time, make it known that they are one of the major ag companies that is pushing for the total destruction of the family farm, by shoving NAIS (National Animal Id System) on all of us. Funny thing is, all the small farmers would be required to comply, but claim it is not practical for them to fully comply. They proclaim that NAIS will stop ALL animals diseases that can make it to the food chain. All Cargill really wants to do is stifle the competition.
    Under NAIS, they are coercing the government to give them a monopoly on the food supply, violating all the ant-trust laws that have been in existence for many years.

  • On the way home tonight on the radio the USDA is investigating the E-Coli beef recall, Apparently they are chasing Starlings that have been chipped, that poop in the grain bins that are used to feed the cattle therefore the cattle are transmitting the E-Coli …. And these are the people that are protecting us….Boy oh Boy are we in serious trouble ….One thing everyone needs to understand that grain is used to fatten up cattle, grain is not there normal forage, its grass/hay. Grain is whats causes the E-coli strain. But because Big Ag is for profits, Grain puts weight on in a short amount of time. Then you have the issue of over working your employees where accidents such as cutting the intestines and spilling the contents.
    I do hope the little ones will be ok. Its time the USDA is reined in fully. They are compromising each and every one of us all for the sake of BIG AG and global trade.
    We the consumer and small farmers,hobbyist are very sick and tired of all the recalls, not to mention what they intend to do to all of us with the NAIS. When looking at the numerous recalls, not one farmer or hobbyist is on that list. Its time to let you clients know to purchase there meat products locally from a farmer they trust. The meat that is in the stores are also from foreign countries pond off as USDA meat grown in the USA. Buyer beware.
    Country of Origin labeling was past in the 2002 farm bill and do to big ag was pushed aside. The 2007 Farm bill we managed to get it back in with out Animal ID but time will tell if Big Ag AGAIN manages to lobby there way out of it.
    And here we are suppose to have the safest food supply, what a joke.

  • My week in Pictures

    It will be busy week at Marler Clark judging from the phone calls and email traffic over the weekend. We expect to file additional lawsuits against Cargill and Topps on behalf of families of children sickened by E. coli from…

  • GA Mundis, DVM

    I raise my own eggs and drink raw milk. In fact, every day for breakfast I have 2 to 4 raw eggs blended with raw milk and what ever fresh fruit is in season. I have never had an intestinal upset from my breakfast mix.
    I can not say that about eating at one of our fast food restaurants.
    All the microbes that cause trouble with food comes from the feeding/processing/management of the animals. Crowded conditions, feeding unnatural foods i.e. chicken poop to cows etc., stress then the need for antibiotics, hormones, arsenic and other chemicals change the animals ph so pathogenic or mutated micro organisms can gain a foot hold.
    Animals grown in-sink with nature develop an excellent immune system that handles natural infections and since there is a minimum of antibiotic treatment the development of the superbugs is minimized or is nonexistent.
    Grassfed beef is healthy for us as it contains conjugated linoleic acid that even protects the heart.The same is true for free range chicken and their eggs. Not only that but there are no lagoons
    full of animal waste containing all sorts of toxins that need to disposed of into our rivers, streams and aquafers.
    We have adequate disease control regulations that have worked for years and will continue to work if the USDA would just do its job. Because USDA is now working for the International Agriculture Corporations approving importations of animals world wide, is not inspecting imports or the slaughter houses as it should and even allowing
    the processors hire their own inspectors we have had back to back meat recalls. Not only is this unforgivable for the pain, suffering and even death of consumers they now want to over regulate and kill off the only healthy animals we have (the animals owned by small farmers/ranchers/homesteaders/hobby breeders).
    The American people should be UP IN ARMS at what the Factory farms have done to our food. No wonder there is so much cancer and illness, not to mention the food tastes like crap, and it is going to get worse if we don’t stop the Nat’l Animal ID System. If we don’t there will not be an alternative to the garbage these large companies are selling as food.
    Most people that eat out of the grocery stores would not recognize the taste for grassfed beef or free range eggs, just to name a two. There is no comparison in taste, besides your body benefits from the natural compounds (without preservatives,etc.) and can heal itself with the correct nutrition.

  • Five in Wisconsin infected with E. coli – Three ate beef in Milwaukee area; link to Minnesota cases studied

    Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted last night on the online edition that now “five people in Wisconsin have been infected with E. coli O157:H7, three of whom consumed beef at the same event in the Milwaukee…

  • Cargill E. coli Hamburgers sold at Sam’s Club implicated in illness in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Tennseess – Lawsuit on Monday

    Cargill recalled E. coli contaminated Frozen Hamburger Patties last week. E. coli cases have been linked in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and now Tennessee. Many of the E. coli cases involve HUS, acute kidney failure. We will be filing…

  • Minnesota family files E. coli suit against Cargill sold at Sams Club

    Eric and Jennifer Gustafson will file suit Monday morning against Cargill on behalf of their two children, Callie, who was hospitalized with acute kidney failure (HUS) caused by E. coli O157:H7 and Carson, who also became ill with E. coli….

  • Cargill manufactured, and Sam’s Club sold, E. coli contaminated hamburger linked to 14 Illnesses in North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin – 3 still hospitalized, 2 in critical condition

    It was much easier to track the illnesses caused by Topps E. coli contaminated hamburger as there is a report on-line on the CDC website. No such luck with being able to see the same on the Cargill recall. Remember,…