A Maine woman who was sickened after consuming <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/food_poisoning">E. coli-contaminated beef is filing a lawsuit, said the Associated Press (AP). The 88-year-old woman ate beef produced by Fairbank Farms in New York that was purchased at a Shawâ€™s grocery in Portland, Maine in September, said the AP. The meat was then kept frozen until the woman ate it in November; she was then hospitalized for one month.
The woman was infected with the E. coli strain linked to the outbreak that appears to have originated with Fairbank Farms, said the AP. Fairbanks recalled nearly 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that was sent cross country from North Carolina to Maine. According to the AP, one other lawsuit is known to have been filed in that state.
The U.S. Department of Agricultureâ€™s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has said that there was an association between the fresh ground beef products subject to recall and illnesses in Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts. According to a Reuters report, a death in New Hampshire may also be connected to tainted Fairbank Farms ground beef. New Hampshire officials announced the death but did not release information about the victim. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also said a New York adult with underlying medical conditions had died.
Nearly 30 cases of E. coli were reported in Northeastern states, including 18 in New England states. Sixteen hospitalizations were reported. According to Reuters, the bacteria involved were from a common strain, so tests were under way to see if all of the reported cases were related.
The ground beef products subject to this recall included meat sold under Trader Joe, Price Chopper, Lancaster and Wild Harvest, Shawâ€™s, and Giant brands and also meats sold at BJs and Ford Brothers. According to FSIS, the recall also includes additional beef products sold under the â€œFairbanks Farmsâ€ name that were distributed to retail establishments in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia for further processing. FSIS has deemed this action a Class I recall, meaning a health hazard situation exists where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.
E. coli is a bacteria normally found in the digestive tracts of cows. Ground beef and other meats can become contaminated with E. coli bacteria during the slaughtering process. While most people will recover from E. coli poisoning within seven-to-10 days, extreme cases can lead to kidney failure and death. Some people with E. coli will require hospitalization, and even dialysis treatments or blood transfusions.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems, for instance, people undergoing chemotherapy or who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are the most susceptible to food borne illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a physician.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), E. coli is one of the leading causes of food borne illness in the U.S. but estimates could be much higher, because many cases of E. coli poisoning are never reported.