Lawsuits Coming in Kroger E. Coli Outbreak

At least one person plans on filing a lawsuit after falling ill from eating tainted meat. Zachery Everhart become sick with E. coli in the recent and ongoing multi-state outbreak of <"">E. coli poisoning after consuming tainted meat that generated from Kroger’s Grocery. A raw beef sample sold at Gahanna’s Kroger Marketplace tested positive this week for E. coli O157:H7. Everhart’s attorney plans to file a product liability claim against Kroger and its beef supplier. Everhart said that he wants his medical bills paid for and is looking to send a message to those who sell, prepare, and process ground beef to pay closer attention to how they clean the food they sell. “It was very painful, actually severe abdominal pains for probably a duration of four days,” Everhart said.

Meanwhile, it was only after health department announcements that a two-state E. coli outbreak was linked to its tainted beef did Kroger’s Grocery finally issue a recall, despite that all evidence for days prior was pointing to its meat as having poisoned dozens. All those stricken have been infected with the same strain of E. coli as that found in the contaminated Kroger meat and include at least 14 hospitalizations, with one patient developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.
Although Kroger recalled all ground beef products with sell-by dates between May 21 and June 8, it has not released figures on the number of meat suppliers it works with to supply its over 2,470 supermarkets and stores in 31 states. Kroger has been involved in no less than four ground beef recalls involving meat suppliers and processors, according to its own news release archives. In July 2002, Kroger recalled all of its ground beef products because one of its suppliers, ConAgra Beef—one of the nation’s largest beef processors—discovered E. coli in a sample of its meat. In August 2001 and December 2000, Kroger recalled ground beef because meat from American Foods Group Inc.—a Green Bay Wisconsin-based wholesale meat supplier—was found to have the same strain of bacteria. Immediately following the 2001 recall, Kroger recalled ground beef after IBP Inc., a wholesale meat supplier based in Dakota City, Nebraska, found E. coli in some of its meat products.

Escherichia coli strain 0157:H7 is particularly virulent and can cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, and deadly septicemia. In the US, E. coli is the leading cause of food-borne illness and about 73,000 people are infected and 61 people die from E. coli annually; last year, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to outbreaks. The problem is difficult to police because the food-surveillance system is outdated, under-funded, and overwhelmed by the emergence of mega-farms, -distribution centers, and -transporters. Scientists have expressed concern that infections from antibiotic resistant E. coli are spreading; several countries are reporting cases. Worse, emerging data confirms the negative health effects of E. coli can remain for months and years; can have long-term, lasting effects; and can appear months or years after the original illness.

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