Michael Moss of the New York Times told the story, Pioneer Press’ Ben Garvin took the photo, but Stephanie Smith still suffers from Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome brought on by E. coli O157:H7. From the New York Times:
Mr. Moss took that most pedestrian of American delicacies, the hamburger, and subjected it to probing reporting to figure out why, 16 years after an E. coli outbreak was linked to Jack in the Box restaurants, ground beef tainted with the pathogen remains such a common threat.
Using confidential corporate and government records, Mr. Moss was able to tell the story of a single hamburger, the American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef patty that infected 22-year-old Stephanie Smith with E. coli in the fall of 2007 and left her paralyzed.
Mr. Moss’s hamburger article was the centerpiece of a body of work focused on surprising and troubling holes in the system meant to keep food safe.
The day after Mr. Moss’s article ran, Tom Vilsak, the Agriculture Secretary, said “the story we learned about over the weekend is unacceptable and tragic,” and he launched a review of all department meat safety procedures.
Stephanie still is unable to walk. She still suffers from a brain injury, and still will likely require multiple kidney transplants. She will never be able to have children. She has to date nearly $2,500,000 in medical bills. She is facing a future of medical needs that will be in the tens of millions of dollars. Too bad Mr. Vilsak, nor anyone from USDA or FSIS has visited Ms. Smith to see for themselves what this very nasty bug can do to a life. Perhaps they can take the time to watch the video:
Stephanie Smith: E. coli Survivor from Marlerclark on Vimeo.