And, My view of 30 Years of largest and most unforgettable Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in the United States

From Jeff Benedict, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Tiger Woods and The DynastyPoisoned chronicles the events surrounding the worst food-poisoning epidemic in US history: the deadly Jack in the Box E. coli infections in 1993.

On December 24, 1992, six-year-old Lauren Rudolph was hospitalized with excruciating stomach pain. Less than a week later she was dead. Doctors were baffled: How could a healthy child become so sick so quickly? After a frenzied investigation, public-health officials announced that the cause was E. coli O157:H7, and the source was hamburger meat served at a Jack in the Box restaurant. During this unprecedented crisis, four children died and over seven hundred others became gravely ill.

In Poisoned, award-winning investigative journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author Jeff Benedict delivers a jarringly candid narrative of the fast-moving disaster, drawing on access to confidential documents and exclusive interviews with the real-life characters at the center of the drama—the families whose children were infected, the Jack in the Box executives forced to answer for the tragedy, the physicians and scientists who identified E. coli as the culprit, and the legal teams on both sides of the historic lawsuits that ensued. Fast Food Nation meets A Civil Action in this riveting account of how we learned the hard way to truly watch what we eat.

My view of 30 Years of largest and most unforgettable Foodborne Illness Outbreaks in the United States

Over the last 30 years, I have had a front seat to most every large Foodborne Illness Outbreak in the United States.  Years ago, I could quickly recall each of them.  Perhaps as I have grown a bit older, or perhaps there are now just too many to count?  I thank the work my team has done to create to help us all remember and to perhaps, not forget.

Here are some of the larger from each year, and some just unforgettable, outbreaks:

Jack in the Box Hamburger E. coli Outbreak 1993 – Over 700 sickened across five states with four children dead and over 100 with hemolytic uremic syndrome due to undercooked E. coli-tainted hamburger.  We had the honor to represent Brianne Kiner.

Schwan’s Ice Cream Salmonella Outbreak 1994 – Estimated 224,000 sickened across United States due to cross-contamination of raw eggs.

Salmonella Outbreak linked to Beef Jerky 1995 – At least 95 people in New Mexico sicken with two types of Salmonella from locally produced beef jerky.

Norovirus Outbreak linked to Raw Oysters 1996 – 493 sickened in at least five states from oysters harvested in Louisiana waterways.

Odwalla Apple Juice E. coli Outbreak 1996 – At least 70 sickened in three states and Canada with one death and several hemolytic uremic syndrome cases linked to commercially sold unpasteurized apple juice. A $1,400,000 criminal misdemeanor charge was levied against the company. We had the honor to represent Michael Beverly.

Vibrio Outbreak linked to Raw Oysters 1997 – Over 200 sickened with one death linked to eating raw oysters harvested in California, Oregon, Washington, and Canada.

White Water Park E. coli Outbreak 1998 – 26 culture confirmed cases linked to exposure in a wading pool with one death and six with hemolytic uremic syndrome. We had the honor to represent Jordan Shook.

Malt-O-Meal Cereal Salmonella Outbreak 1998 – This multi-state outbreak sickened over 200, with nearly 50 hospitalizations in 10 states.

E. coli Outbreak linked to Water at Washington County Fair 1999 – 921 people who attended the fair were sickened by either E. coli or Campylobacter with several developing hemolytic uremic syndrome with two deaths due to consuming unchlorinated water.

Sizzler E. coli Outbreak 2000 – There were at least 550 probable cases and 125 possible cases with one death linked to cross-contamination between raw meat and watermelon at two Wisconsin Sizzler restaurants.

Raw Milk Butter E. coli Outbreak 2001 – Nearly 20 kids were sickened by homemade raw milk butter contaminated with E. coli.

ConAgra Beef E. coli Outbreak 2002 – At least 34 cases, including several with hemolytic uremic syndrome and one death in several states linked to contaminated ground beef. We had the honor to represent Thomas Kruc.

Chi-Chis Hepatitis A Outbreak 2003 – Over 650 confirmed cases with five deaths in Pennsylvania linked to the consumption of Hepatitis A-tainted green onions.  We had the honor to represent Richard Miller.

Sheetz Tomato Salmonella Outbreak 2004 – Nearly 300 Salmonella cases in five states linked to the consumption of tomatoes at Sheetz convenience stores.

Cryptosporidium Outbreak linked to Water 2005 – Over 2,000 people from 20 New York counties were linked to illnesses from water at the Seneca Lake spray park.

Peter Pan Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak 2006 – Over 600 people in 47 states were linked to the consumption of Salmonella-tainted peanut butter sold under the Peter Pan and Great Value brands. A $11,200,000 criminal misdemeanor charge was levied against the company. We had the honor to represent Mora Lou Marshall.

Dole Baby Spinach E. coli Outbreak 2006 – Over 200 were sickened, several with hemolytic uremic syndrome with five deaths linked to E. coli-tainted baby spinach grown in California. We had the honor to represent Ashley Armstrong.

Topps Beef E. coli Outbreak 2007 – Nearly 50 cases in eight states with 20 hospitalized and two with hemolytic uremic syndrome linked to frozen beef patties.

Cargill Beef E. coli Outbreak 2007 – We had the honor to represent Stephanie Smith.

Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella Outbreak 2007 – Over 700 people were sickened with hundreds hospitalized and nine deaths in 46 states and Canada due to Salmonella-tainted peanut butter.  Felony criminal charges were filed against the president and several employees of the company.  Two executives were sentenced to over 20 years in prison.

ConAgra Pot Pie Salmonella Outbreak 2007 – Over 400 people were sickened in 41 states after consuming ready to cook pot pies.

Nebraska Beef E. coli Outbreak 2008 – At least 50 people were sickened in eight states with 27 hospitalized due to E. coli-tainted ground beef.

Nestle Tollhouse Cookie Dough E. coli Outbreak 2009 – Nearly 75 people with 32 hospitalized and 10 with hemolytic uremic syndrome in 30 states linked to the consumption of E. coli-tainted cookie dough. We had the honor to represent Linda Rivera.

Wright County Egg Salmonella Outbreak 2010 – Over 2,000 sickened across the United States linked to Salmonella-tainted eggs.  A $7,000,000 criminal misdemeanor penalty was assessed and included three months in jail for two executives. We had the honor to represent Sarah Lewis.

Cargill Ground Turkey Salmonella Outbreak 2011 – At least 136 people with 37 hospitalized and one death were linked to Salmonella-tainted turkey on 34 states.

Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak 2011 – 33 deaths with 147 illnesses were linked in 28 states to Listeria-tainted cantaloupe from Colorado.  The owners pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor charges.  We had the honor to represent Paul Schwarz.

Tuna Scrape Salmonella Outbreak 2012 – At least 425 people with 55 hospitalized in 28 states linked to two strains of Salmonella ties to raw Tuna scrape.

Foster Farms Chicken Salmonella Outbreak 2013 – At lease 650 people were sickened with hundreds hospitalized due to Salmonella-tainted chicken.

Townsend Farms Berry Hepatitis A Outbreak 2013 – Nearly 200 people were sickened in 10 states linked to Hepatitis A-tainted berries, some imported from Turkey.

Salmonella Outbreak linked to Cucumbers 2014 – Almost 300 people were sickened with dozens hospitalized in 29 states.

Chipotle E. coli Outbreak 2015 – Approximately 60 people were sickened with over 20 hospitalized in 12 states. A $25,000,000 criminal misdemeanor charge was levied against the company.

Blue Bell Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak 2015 – Only 10 were sickened in four states.  A $19,500,000 criminal misdemeanor was charged.

Salmonella Outbreak linked to Cucumbers 2015 – Over 900 were sickened with 200 hospitalized in 40 states linked to Salmonella-tainted cucumbers.

Costco Chicken Salad E. coli Outbreak 2015 – Only 19 people were sickened, some with several hemolytic uremic syndrome on seven states. We had the honor to represent Chloe Rodgerson.

Hepatitis A Outbreak linked to Strawberries 2016 – Nearly 150 people were sickened by Hepatitis A-tainted strawberries imported from Egypt.

Hepatitis A Outbreak linked to Scallops 2016 – Nearly 300 were sickened with 75 hospitalized and one death in Hawaii tied to imported scallops. We had the honor to represent Shirlee Yuu.

I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter E. coli Outbreak 2017 – Over 30 sickened with a dozen hospitalized linked to Salmonella-tainted Soy Nut Butter.

Cyclospora Outbreak linked to unknown cause 2017 – Over 1,000 Cyclospora cases likely linked to a food product in 36 states.

Fareway Chicken Salad Salmonella Outbreak 2018 – Nearly 300 were sickened by Salmonella-tainted chicken salad in eight states.

JBS Meat Salmonella Outbreak 2018 – Over 400 sickened with over 150 hospitalized from Salmonella-tainted ground beef in 30 states.

Caito Foods Fruit Salmonella Outbreak 2019 – 137 linked to Salmonella-tainted cut fruit with 38 hospitalized in 10 states.

Thomson Onion Salmonella Outbreak 2020 – Over 1,000 sickened with 150 hospitalized in 48 states tied to Salmonella-tainted onions.

Salmonella Outbreak linked to Onions 2021 – Over 1,000 sickened with 260 hospitalized in 39 states tied to Salmonella-tainted onions.

Wendy’s Leafy Green E. coli Outbreak 2022 – Over 100 sickened with 52 hospitalized with 13 with hemolytic uremic syndrome likely linked to romaine lettuce.

Big Olaf’s Ice Cream Listeria Outbreak 2022 – 28 sickened, 27 hospitalized with one death tied to Listeria-tainted ice cream.