Hannaford Supermarkets Sued Over Tainted Beef

Hannaford supermarkets are being sued over tainted beef that, at last count, had sickened 16 people nationwide. The contaminated beef is linked to the dangerous drug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium pathogen.

The lawsuit was filed on December 21 in the U.S. District Court by Brian P. DiGeorgio, who claims he was sickened with Salmonellosis, the illness caused by the Salmonella bacteria. According to The Times Union, DiGeorgio purchased and ate the ground beef on November 7 at Hannaford’s store in Latham. He suffered illness that included diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps for the next two days and had to be treated in a hospital emergency room, where he was diagnosed with Salmonella poisoning.

According to the lawsuit, DiGeorgio lapsed into a coma at the hospital, and was admitted to Intensive Care Unit. He remained in the hospital until November 23, wrote The Times Union. He is still recovering, said DiGeorgio’s attorney, who added that the ground beef DiGeorgio purchased at Hannaford caused his clients illness.

Officials with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) said it is not able to determine from where the contaminated beef originated because Hannaford and other supermarkets tend to blend ground meats that come from multiple sources, which enables producers to sell packaged meats in different fat ratios, but also presents significant tracking challenges.

Hannaford officials said all of its ground beef products with a “sell by” date of December 17 or earlier have been recalled and that the products involved contain 73 – 90% beef and include Hannaford Regular, Taste of Inspirations Angus, and Nature’s Place ground beef. The recalled beef was blended at the individual Hannaford stores where sold, according to Hannaford officials.

As we’ve mentioned, cases of the drug-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses have been reported in Maine, Hawaii, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Kentucky and have affected people from one year of age to 70; the median age for this illness is currently 45. Of those reportedly sickened, 10 told public health officials they purchased ground beef at Hannaford in Maine, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Other cases of Salmonellosis have been reported in Maine, said the state epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Sears, who noted that additional testing is needed to determine the strain involved and if the illnesses are linked to Hannaford ground beef.

The PFGE pattern linked to this outbreak is reported rarely in the U.S., said the FSIS. Also, the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium initially tested as resistant to multiple, commonly prescribed antibiotics, including drug classes such as beta-lactams, aminoglycosides, and cephalosporins.

Hannaford spokesman, Michael Norton, said the grocery chain recalled about 12,000 pounds of ground beef in what the FSIS designated a Class I recall, which mean this recall represents a health hazard situation in which there exists a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.

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