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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Mr. President, Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Sibelius, FDA, FSIS, what happened in Japan, and what is happening in Europe, can happen here

A month ago 90 people fell ill with E. coli O111 after eating raw beef at eateries near Tokyo and on Honshu Island. 23 suffered hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and four died.

We have seen that strain in the United States before. 341 people became ill with E. coli O111:NM during an outbreak traced to Country Cottage Restaurant. Seventy people were hospitalized, 17 with HUS, and one person died as a result of the E. coli infection in what is believed to be the largest community outbreak of diarrheal illness and HUS attributable to E. coli O111:NM ever reported. No specific tainted food item was identified. So, the fresh vegetable industry and the beef industry can say that such an outbreak has not been linked to them – yet!

Screen shot 2011-05-28 at 3.53.57 PM.pngNow throughout Europe (Germany, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, France and Switzerland), 1,000 have been sickened, 300 have developed HUS and 10 have died as a result of E. coli O104:H4 (E. coli O104, stx2 positive and eae negative) – tainted cucumbers from Spain.

We have seen E. coli O104 in the United States before. In 1994 milk from a Montana dairy was implicated in an outbreak of E. coli O104:H21. We have also found it in the testing of retail ground beef that I funded in 2008-2009. In fact, we found an O104:H7, stx2 positive, eae negative, subtilase positive E. coli (see picture above and PowerPoint Presentation). So, the fresh vegetable industry can say E. coli O104 has not been linked to them – yet! The beef industry can say that such an outbreak has not been linked to them – yet, but we certainly found it in a place (hamburger) that it should not be in.

Mr. President, Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Sibelius, FDA, FSIS, what are we doing to avoid a Japanese or European outbreak of E. coli O111 or E. coli O104?