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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

E. coli Tainted lettuce linked to Taco John’s grown on Buttonwillow farm

A report by food safety investigators have linked a Kern County farm with an E. coli outbreak in 2006 that sickened dozens of people in the Midwest.  Officials from the California Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration reported that tainted lettuce served at Taco John’s restaurants in Iowa and Minnesota came from Wegis Ranch in Buttonwillow.  More than 80 people became sick with E. coli infections after eating the lettuce.  Investigators said they found positive samples of E. coli at Wegis Ranch and at two neighboring dairies.  See more from the Bakersfield Californian.

  • Dr Edo McGowan

    Bill, has anyone looked at antibiotic resistance in any of this. Some new peer reviewed papers are out discussing the advancing antibiotic resistance within E. coli as well as the fact that some of these bugs are chlorine resistant. The synergistic effect of these two issues may be as follows. First there are several papers in the scientific literature that discuss how sewer plants by their very design and nature augment the development of antibiotic resistance. These resistant pathogens and their genetic material are released to the environment with sewage byproducts (effluent and sewage sludge (biosolids). Amy Pruden has demonstrated that genetic material (antibiotic resistant genes [ARGs]) are not impacted by chlorine as ARGs are not a viable cell but merely a genetic fragment. These fragments, however, can be incorporated into other organisms and thus render them antibiotic resistant. This information has been around since 1928 when the work of Fred Griffith was published. The development of chlorine resistance may be rather rapid. The rub here is that the human immune system uses hypochlorite released by the leukocyte to kill bacteria and other pathogens. If there is chlorine resistance, then the human immune system is compromised. In the case of several commonly used antibiotics, the process is one of bacteriostatic and not bactericidal. Thus the objective is to use these antibiotics to reduce the numbers of bacteria down to some level that can be accommodated by the immune system. In such cases with chlorine resistance, it should be obvious that resistance to both chlorine and antibiotics will have an adverse impact on recovery. If there is chlorine resistance, the immune system is unable to function as designed.
    While the above is an issue, one must remember that those ill enough to become statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. In the Walkerton outbreak of E. coli in Canada, the after-shock reviews demonstrated that something like 10 to 20 persons were affected for each statistically reported case. These people were showing up with latent kidney damage and that damage might lead to hypertension. Hypertension then can cause a large syndrome of mal adaptive diseases.
    Thus in closing, is the State of California’s health services looking at any of these issues, and if not, why not?