December 2005

E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with lettuce or spinach, specifically the “pre-washed” and “ready-to-eat” varieties sold under various brand and trade names, are by no means a new phenomenon.
In October 2003, 13 residents of a California retirement center were sickened and 2 died after eating E. coli-contaminated “pre-washed” spinach.
In September 2003, nearly 40 patrons of a California restaurant chain became ill after eating salads prepared with bagged, “pre-washed” lettuce.
In July 2002, over 50 young women were stricken with E. coli at a dance camp after eating “pre-washed” lettuce, leaving several hospitalized, and 1 with life-long kidney damage.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that of 225 food-poisoning outbreaks from 1990 to 1998, nearly 20 percent (55 outbreaks) were linked to fresh fruits, vegetables or salads.

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As Jason Cato of the Tribune-Review reported today, checks should start arriving in a few weeks for nearly 5,000 people who claimed part of an $800,000 lawsuit settlement against Chi-Chi’s following a hepatitis A outbreak two years ago at a restaurant in Beaver County.
From the article:

Though nearly 10,000 people got shots to help

Don Hamilton, a Columbian staff writer, reported today that our firm will be representing two families victimized by the recent E. coli outbreak with an eye toward suing Dee Creek Farm, the farm that provided the raw milk that sickened their children.
Eighteen people, 15 of them children ages 1 to 13, have been sickened

As the Associated Press reported today, nearly 5,000 people who had to get shots to ward off hepatitis A during a food-poisoning outbreak at a western Pennsylvania Chi-Chi’s restaurant two years ago will be mailed checks for $162.23 each next month. A federal judge in Delaware overseeing Chi-Chi’s bankruptcy signed off on the class-action settlement

Barbara LaBoe of The Daily News reported today that both the state and an unlicensed Woodland dairy may be sued on behalf of two children sick with E. coli.
From the article:

Parents of two of the children sickened after drinking unpasteurized milk from Dee Creek Farm asked Seattle lawyer Bill Marler to look into their case, he said Sunday. Marler is an E. coli expert, who worked on both the Jack in the Box and Odwalla juice E. coli cases.
Twenty-one people who drank unpasteurized, or raw, milk from Dee Creek developed E. coli symptoms. Five Clark County children were hospitalized and two remain in critical condition. Preliminary state tests linked the DNA of four of the E. coli cases Saturday, further bolstering officials’ belief the bacteria came from Dee Creek milk.

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On November 30, Jane Zhang of the Wall Street Journal wrote about the recent influx of trouble that has come from Americans eating their vegetables:

More Americans are eating their vegetables. But the healthy trend comes with a risk: Illnesses traced to fresh produce are on the rise.
Fruits and vegetables are now responsible for more large-scale outbreaks of food-borne illnesses than meat, poultry or eggs. Overall, produce accounts for 12 percent of food-borne illnesses and 6 percent of the outbreaks, up from 1 percent of the illnesses and 0.7 percent of outbreaks in the 1970s, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, meat-related E. coli infections have been on the decline.
Several factors are responsible: the centralization of produce distribution, a rise in produce imports, as well as the growing popularity of pre-chopped fruits and vegetables. Both the government and the industry have identified five products that are particularly problematic: tomatoes, melons (especially cantaloupes), lettuce, sprouts and green onions.

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