E. Coli Outbreaks Spawn Lawsuits

Two meat packing firms have been named in lawsuits filed by the families of two New England children stricken with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_escherichia_coli">E. coli infections.

The first lawsuit names Fairbank Farms of Ashville, New York as a defendant. The complaint, which was filed on behalf of a 12-year-old Massachusetts girl, claims she became ill as a result of eating E. coli-tainted meat that came from Fairbank Farms in September.

As we reported earlier this week, Fairbank Farms recalled more than a half million pounds of ground beef products after meat it packaged was implicated in an E coli O157:H7 outbreak. Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said that there was an association between the fresh ground beef products subject to recall and illnesses in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 28 people in a dozen states have been sickened in an E coli O157:H7 outbreak that may involve Fairbank Farms products. Two deaths may be linked to the E. coli outbreak, and a number of victims have been hospitalized.

The products subject to recall were sent to retailers including Trader Joe’s, Price Chopper, Lancaster and Wild Harvest, Shaw’s, BJ’s, Ford Brothers, and Giant Food Stores. The recall was for distribution centers in eight states, but Fairbank Farms said some retailers may have sent the affected beef to other states.

The second lawsuit was filed on behalf of an 11-year-old boy from Rhode Island who became ill after eating ground beef from South Shore Meats, a unit of Crocetti’s Oakdale Packing Co., while on a school field trip to a Massachusetts camp. At least 20 school children and adults became ill after they visited the camp in October.

Following the outbreak, South Shore Meats recalled 1,039 pounds of fresh ground beef patties derived from bench trim because of concerns the products were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

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