Some good news for one of my young clients who went through the agony of HUS from eating a hamburger. Stephen Tyler Roberts, now 13, but at the time a fifth-grader, was hospitalized and needed several blood transfusions in April 1998. He was one of the unfortunate children at Danielsville Elementary School who ate the hamburgers served in the school cafeteria, which turned out to be contaminated with the deadly E. coli O157:H7.

This contaminated meat went to schools, prisons and military institutions in the South. The meat was supplied by Bauer Meat Co. in Ocala Florida, which since declared bankruptcy.

As I said in the article Boy’s Family Settles Lawsuit Over E. coli:

Stephen did not need dialysis to help him recover, a scenario many young children undergo when their kidneys shut down from E. coli poisoning. However, future consequences resulting from the E. coli episode may be further complicated by the boy’s diabetes, said Marler, a Seattle attorney specializing in food-borne lawsuits. “With diabetes, it’s harder to predict what the long-term damage of E. coli will be,” he said. “But, now he’s doing great.”

Marler contends U.S. schoolchildren continue to be at risk for eating contaminated meat because school districts get the beef for free from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch program, which has bought the lower- grade beef at reduced prices. The USDA is the same federal agency overseeing meat plant safety. Two schools in Washington and Texas had E. coli outbreaks last year.

“It is time for the USDA to act to ensure that our children are not eating food that is contaminated,” Marler said.

The USDA is currently being probed for its school lunch program by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.