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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Off to Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health

Big doings in Des Moines.

Tuesday I have the honor to share the stage with one of my “E. coli Hero’s,” Dr. Phil Tarr.  Phil’s and my job is to give the Iowa Governor’s Conference a perspective of the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.  Here are some of the key facts:

  • The Washington Department of Health (WDOH) was notified that a cluster of children suffering hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) secondary to E. coli O157:H7 infection was being treated in a Seattle-area hospital and that there had been an increase in emergency room visits from patients with bloody diarrhea.
  • The WDOH E. coli outbreak investigation led to the discovery that regular-sized hamburger patties and “jumbo” hamburger patties produced by Von Companies of California and sold by Jack in the Box were the source of the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
  • The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 11 lots of patties produced on November 29 and 30, 1992, and Jack in the Box issued a recall of all ground beef produced on that day that was still in restaurants.  About 20 percent of the implicated ground beef was recovered through the recall.
  • Washington reported 602 patients with bloody diarrhea or HUS.  477 Washingtonians were culture-confirmed with E. coli O157:H7 infections, with illness onset peaking between January 17 and January 20, 1993.  144 people were hospitalized; 30 developed HUS, and three died.
  • Idaho reported 14 culture-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases with illness onset dates between December 11, 1992 and February 16, 1993.  Four people were hospitalized; one developed HUS
  • Nevada reported only one culture-confirmed case, with 58 other patients meeting the outbreak-case definition with illness onset dates between December 1, 1992 and February 7, 1993.  Nine people were hospitalized; three developed HUS.
  • California reported six culture-confirmed cases, with 34 patients meeting the outbreak-case definition with illness onset dates between November 15 1992 and January 31, 1993.  Fourteen people were hospitalized; seven developed HUS, and one child died.
  • Seventy-three Jack in the Box restaurants were ultimately identified as part of the outbreak and recall.  A trace-back was conducted, and five slaughter plants in the United States and one in Canada were identified as the likely sources of beef used by Von Corporation in the production of the hamburger patties sold to Jack in the Box.  No one slaughter plant or farm was ever identified as the source.

This fairly tells the story:

Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak: Brianne Kiner from Marlerclark on Vimeo.