Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Nebraska Beef, Why Did You Not Disclose E. coli Tests? Are Criminal Sanctions Warranted?

E. coli reporter, Josh Funk, and I had a chance to talk a bit following my speech to ConAgra’s Food Safety Council about Nebraska Beef Ltd.’s slow response to indications that its products might have been tainted with E. coli.  According to the FSIS, “Nebraska Beef was notified in the first half of June that two samples of its trim to be used in ground beef had tested positive for E. coli.”  You must wonder when this company will get a clue.  Will it be more illnesses?  More recalls?  More lawsuits (we just filed another)?  Or, perhaps criminal sanctions?  The company’s products have now been linked to E. coli illnesses affecting 49 people in Georgia, Michigan and Ohio.  The meat recall announced last week was expanded from 531,707 to 5.3 million pounds.

I also talked to the Omaha World Herald about why ConAgra asked me to come to Omaha to speak to its Food Safety Council and executives responsible for food safety.  As I said:

"Paying attention to food safety is ultimately good for the bottom line and good for your company morally," Marler said.

Too often, Marler said, companies either ignore or do not recognize warning signs of food borne illness.

Marler credited ConAgra Chief Executive Gary Rodkin and other company executives for inviting him to speak.

"It says a lot for the company," Marler said.

  • Matt

    I don’t have an expert grasp of law (that’s why I read this blog!) but can you please tell me how this WOULDN’T be about as clear of an example of depraved indifference as there could be?
    Criminal sanctions? I don’t see how it could even be a question. And if there’s a single death that can be associated with this outbreak, I’d like to hear words like “involuntary manslaughter”.

  • I’ve read that 40% of feedlot cows carry E. coli 0157:H57. True?
    Remember, of course, we’re talking about a company that sued a church after a church dinner prepared with Nebraska Beef sickened and killed parishioners. These guys are not known for their heart. Or class.

  • C. Alfred Santillo

    My memory is a sad data storage system, but I have a dim recall of a group of children either becoming severely ill, or dying from some sort of meat-borne bacteria in a fast-food place. I think it was in 1993-94-95. Dr. Robin Cook wrote a chilling novel about slaughterhouse and meat packing procedures and their apparently cavalier testing and disinfecting protocols during the killing and handling of cattle. Is the E.coli strain in both the fast-food case and the novel the same strain you are referring to?