The E. coli attorneys at Marler Clark filed additional lawsuits in Michigan Circuit Courts, against Wendy’s, Co., and John Doe Corporation (lettuce producer), on behalf of Zachary Nitz and Ebone Colbert-Taylor.  Both individuals became ill after eating hamburgers at Wendy’s restaurants and were positively identified as part of the multi-state Wendy’s outbreak.  The plaintiffs are represented by Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, and local counsel, Michael Heilmann. Marler Clark has also filed four individual lawsuits in Ohio.  Additional lawsuits will be brought in the coming days.  Marler Clark clients are from hard hit Michigan and Ohio as well as Indiana and Pennsylvania.

According to the CDC’s latest report:

97 Sick with E. coli O157:H7
43 Hospitalized
10 with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)
Age range 3 to 94
45% Female and 55% Male

We are representing 36 of the folks sickened and have filed 6 lawsuits in Ohio and Michigan so far. We have identified the grower and the shipper of the lettuce. We are working on the processor.

Since the last update on August 25, 2022, 13 more illnesses have been reported to CDC. As of August 31, 2022, a total of 97 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from six states – Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

Note: The State of Ohio is reporting 24 cases, but Wood County alone is reporting 23, so the actually number for Ohio is likely 48.

Note: The State of Michigan is reporting 58 cases though the CDC, but earlier it reported at least 98, so the actual number in Michigan is at lease 100.

The CDC is reporting confirmed cases (by WGS) as follows: Indiana (11), Kentucky (1), Michigan (58), New York (1), Ohio (24) and Pennsylvania (2).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2022, to August 15, 2022.

Sick people range in age from 3 to 94 years, with a median age of 22 years, and 55% are male. Of 81 people with information available, 43 have been hospitalized and 10 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

State and local public health officials have been interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Among 67 people with detailed food history, 54 (81%) reported eating at a Wendy’s restaurant in the week before their illness started. The Wendy’s restaurants where sick people ate are in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. People reported eating a variety of menu items, including burgers and sandwiches. Of 54 people with detailed information about what they ate at Wendy’s, 37 (69%) reported eating romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches. 

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $850 Million for clients in the last 29 years. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. For more information visit www.marlerclark.com.

Additional Resources:

All Lawsuits:

The Reagan-Udall Foundation today announced five members of an Independent Expert Panel who will conduct the operational evaluation of the Food and Drug Administration’s human foods program. Dr. Jane Henney, former FDA Commissioner, was named as Chair of the panel last month. Joining Henney are Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, James Jones, Barbara Kowalcyk, Shiriki Kumanyika, and John Taylor.

“This team brings the right combination of FDA and other government experience along with deep subject matter expertise and first-hand systems and operations knowledge,” said Jane E. Henney, MD, Chair of the Independent Expert Panel. “We appreciate their commitment to developing actionable recommendations to help improve FDA’s human foods program.”

The review is set to officially launch on September 8, 2022, culminating 60-business-days later (December 6, 2022) in a report to Dr. Robert Califf, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, at FDA.

The Independent Expert Panel, charged with generating the report, is comprised of researchers, former regulators, and process improvement specialists with disciplinary expertise and experience in epidemiology, food science and safety, microbiology, nutrition, and regulatory operations.

  • Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, PhD, a food safety microbiologist, is Director of the Center for Food Safety and a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He conducts research aimed to control foodborne pathogens and is a member of the USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods.
  • James Jones is President of JJones Environmental, following a 30-year career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. His posts at EPA included five years as the Assistant Administrator, and his accomplishments include leading the agency’s effort to significantly reduce pesticides in food and navigating a years-long backlog of pesticide registrations and tolerances as well as leading the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act.
  • Barbara Kowalcyk, PhD, directs the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention at The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is Associate Professor of Food Safety and Public Health in the Department of Food Science and Technology. She is a well-respected epidemiologist and biostatistician, and a nearly ten-year member of the FDA Science Board, which she currently chairs.
  • Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MS, MPH, is Research Professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. She has applied her interdisciplinary background and extensive research experience in numerous roles, and currently chairs the National Academies Food and Nutrition Board. She is also Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
  • John Taylor, JD, is President and Principal, Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, at Greenleaf Health. He spent more than 20 years at FDA, holding posts that included Counselor to the Commissioner, Acting Deputy Principal Commissioner, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Global Regulatory Operations and Policy, and Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.

The Independent Expert Panel will focus on structure/leadership, authority, resources, and culture as it develops recommendations to equip FDA to better carry out its regulatory responsibilities, strengthen its relationships with state and local governments, and secure the nation’s food supply for the future.

With the Wendy’s E. coli outbreak still counting people, the Daily Harvest and Revive people still suffering and the Best of Baltimore Salmonella or Campylobacter outbreak still brewing, that September has anything to do with safe food.

An estimated 1 in 6 Americans get foodborne illness (food poisoning) every year, but you can help protect yourself and others from getting sick. Always follow four simple steps to prevent food poisoning: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

September is National Food Safety Education Month (FSEM). It’s a great time to focus on key illness prevention steps, such as avoiding cross-contamination in your kitchen. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods, like salads or food that is already cooked. These germs include CampylobacterSalmonellaClostridium perfringens, and E. coli. They can make people sick and even lead to hospitalization and death in serious cases. The key to avoiding cross-contamination is to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from foods that won’t be cooked before you eat them (ready-to-eat foods) when grocery shopping and preparing food in the kitchen.

Steps to Avoid Cross-Contamination

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other food in shopping cart.
  • Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Do not wash raw chicken or turkey.
  • Use one cutting board or plate for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and a separate cutting board or plate for produce, bread, and other foods that won’t be cooked (ready-to-eat foods).
    • If you only have one cutting board, cut produce, bread and other ready-to-eat foods first then wash cutting board with soap and hot water before cutting raw meat, poultry or seafood on it.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after touching raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • Wash your utensils, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
  • If you marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood and want to reuse that marinade on the food after it is cooked, bring marinade to a boil first.
  • Keep cooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs on a separate plate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

According to news reports, health officials in Baltimore and Maryland are investigating an outbreak of Foodborne illness to some that attending the Best of Baltimore event. Press reports indicate that the outbreak might be linked to Campylobacter, although victims’ report it may well be Salmonella.

Baltimore Magazine’s Events Director, Macaulay Hammond: “It came to our attention that some people who attended this year’s party experienced an illness in the days after. Because we are unable to definitively identify the cause, we proactively contacted the Department of Health,” Hammond said. “They are currently investigating the situation by surveying the 1,100+ event attendees. Our priority now is to work with the Department of Health, and at the time the investigation is complete, we will be reaching out to those affected directly. We sincerely hope that anyone who has become ill begins feeling better soon.”

On Wednesday, the Baltimore City Health Department also acknowledged the reports of illness after the party: “We have received information regarding a potential outbreak at the Best of Baltimore event,” said Arinze Ifekauche, director of communications with the Baltimore City Health Department. “Investigations are ongoing and we are working closely with the State to find out more. A survey was sent by MDH to event attendees to determine what the source of the illness might be. We encourage everyone who received the survey to complete it—regardless of whether or not they fell ill following the event.”

Chase Cook, a spokesman for MDH, said the Baltimore City Health Department is leading the ongoing investigation into the source of illnesses: “MDH sent out a survey to attendees to gather more information,” said Cook, in part. “We encourage everyone who received the survey to complete it—regardless of whether or not they fell ill following the event.”

Neither public health agency would say how many people have reported falling ill.

Since the last update on August 25, 2022, 13 more illnesses have been reported to CDC. As of August 31, 2022, a total of 97 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from six states. 

Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 26, 2022, to August 15, 2022.

Sick people range in age from 3 to 94 years, with a median age of 22 years, and 55% are male. Of 81 people with information available, 43 have been hospitalized and 10 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 84 people from Ohio (23), Michigan (53), Pennsylvania (2), and Indiana (6), have been infected with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7, with illness onset dates ranging from July 26 through August 9, 2022. At least 38 individuals have been hospitalized, and at least 8 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication with a mortality rate of 5%. 

The E. coli attorneys at Marler Clark filed additional lawsuits in Michigan Circuit Courts, against Wendy’s, Co., and John Doe Corporation (lettuce producer), on behalf of Zachary Nitz and Ebone Colbert-Taylor.  Both individuals became ill after eating hamburgers at Wendy’s restaurants and were positively identified as part of the multi-state Wendy’s outbreak.  The plaintiffs are represented by Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, and local counsel, Michael Heilmann. Marler Clark has also filed four individual lawsuits in Ohio.  Additional lawsuits will be brought in the coming days.  Marler Clark clients are from hard hit Michigan and Ohio as well as Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $850 Million for clients in the last 29 years. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. For more information visit www.marlerclark.com.

Additional Resources:

All Lawsuits:

What would Dave the founder have done?

Would he be concerned about those sickened, those hospitalized, those with acute kidney failure, those with unpaid medical bills and lost wages?

According to SeekingAlpha – poisoning people seems to not have had much of an impact on Wendy’s sales, stock price nor the market’s view of Wendy’s future – go figure:

Wedbush Securities kept Wendy’s Company (NASDAQ:WEN) slotted as one of the firm’s top picks in the consumer sector after feedback from across the restaurant chain’s system indicated little to no impact from the E. coli outbreak developments.

Analyst Nick Setyan: “Our checks with managers of stores within impacted geographies and contacts with franchisees with units in geographies impacted indicate that the E. Coli news first reported on 8/19 has had a very limited to no impact on sales trends thus far. We are hearing ‘no sales impact’ within geographies outside of the impacted areas universally.”

The read-through was positive enough that Wedbush kept its forecast for Q3 U.S. franchised same-store sales growth at 5.5% vs. 5.1% consensus and made no changes to the margin, EBITDA or EPS estimates either.

Wedbush has an Outperform rating on Wendy’s (WEN) and price target of $24.

Shares of WEN dropped 0.95% in early trading on Monday to $19.21 vs. the 52-week trading range of $15.77 to $24.48.

Well, we are filing the 6th E. coli lawsuit in this “fast moving outbreak” (according to the CDC). Perhaps those six and the dozens to follow will give Wendy’s a new perspective.

Today we are filing the 4th and 5th lawsuits against various Wendy’s franchises, Wendy’s Co., and “John Does” grower, processor and shipper. We are presently representing 32 individuals, including 4 with HUS.

We also ask Wendy’s Co., to confirm the names of grower, processor and shipper. And, to offer to pay now the out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages of its sickened customers.

The CDC’s numbers as of last week were 84.  The number is not complete as are the ages and %. A database for WGS, NCBI, has it at 94.  If you look at the Health Department sites in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania reports, the number is over 150.

I will keep you posted.

CDC update 8/25 

84 illnesses

Age:  5 to 94 years, median 24 years

52% male, 48% female

Indiana: 6

Michigan: 53

Ohio: 23

Pennsylvania: 2

62 out of 84 interviewed (74%)

52 of those 62 reported eating at a Wendy’s (84% of interviewed, 62% overall)

17 of those 52 had detailed information about what they ate at Wendy’s (33% of interviewed with detailed, 20% overall)

15 of those 17 reported eating romaine lettuce served on burgers and sandwiches (88% of interviewed with detailed eating sandwich w/romaine, 18% overall)

NCBI update 8/29

Note, the SNP Cluster # is dynamic and changes as more isolates are added

SNP Cluster PDS000116884.1

94 Isolates Selected

Distance between selected isolates: minimum = 0 SNPs, maximum = 3 SNPs, average = 0 SNPs

73 are 0 SNPs

The Food Safety Law Firm: 

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $850 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, Wendy’s and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Additional Resources:

Some ask me why I get so exercised over foodborne illnesses. Here is an email I just got:  

My wife has been hospitalized with typical HUS after E. coli infection verified O157. She consumed Wendy’s three days prior to symptom onset. Has been in hospital from August 6th to present and experienced kidney failure, among other secondary cognitive issues we hope clear up over time. We are still in hospital. 

The good news/bad news of being in the middle of every E. coli outbreak linked to leafy greens over the last 20 years is that I have a lot of insight and contacts outside and inside the industry.

No one would dispute that at this time of the year, lettuce like the romaine/iceberg hybrid would be grown in California instead of Arizona (too damn hot this time of year).  So, it was with little surprise that I learned from multiple sources over the weekend that California is once again, specifically the Santa Maria Valley, the likely source of yet another E. coli outbreak that in the last month has sickened between 84 and 160 people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana who ate at Wendy’s restaurants.

According to Pacific International Marketing (PIM):

The Santa Maria Valley in California stretches from the cool coastal areas to the warm inland valleys. The valley provides a unique climate and soil types making it and ideal place for ideal year-round growing conditions for many of our row crops. Each year, Pacific with its growers and partners produces approximately five million packages of produce from this area.

In the Santa Maria Valley, our growers use both conventional and organic farming practices. They grow anise, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprout stalks, cauliflower, celery, celery hearts, cilantro, green onion, iceberg lettuce, kale, leeks, mixed leaf lettuce, parsley, radishes, romaine, romaine hearts, spinach and spring mix lettuces.

Watch this space or the lawsuits in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana. Although, if Wendy’s and/or the grower, processor, shipper want to chat, I am all ears.