The E.Coli outbreak that started in March has now killed five people and injured nearly 200. However, outbreak investigators have been trying to trace the romaine for two months, but they still can’t determine who grew, processed and shipped the deadly produce.
About E. Coli
E. coli is bacteria that normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. While most strains are harmless, the one found in recent patients, 0157: H7, is a specific strain that can cause serious illness. Symptoms of E. coli typically begin two to eight days after consuming the bacteria, although most patients become ill three or four days after consumption. These symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days. However, those most at risk include the very young, the very old and individuals with compromised immune systems.
Five people in the United States have died in the E.Coli outbreak. Almost 200 hundred are sick from it as well. That’s 25 more confirmed cases since the previous update on May 16. Almost half of the infected people had to be hospitalized. Also, almost 30 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. Plus, six people in Canada are sick with the outbreak strain of E. coli.
All of the victims reported eating romaine before becoming sick. Investigators believe the lettuce came from Harrison Farms in Yuma, but the farm finished harvesting and plowed the field before investigators could visit it. The FDA blames the lack of traceability on incomplete and incompatible shipping and receiving records. Plus, many growers, processors, and distributors do not use labeling before selling to restaurants and grocery stores.
Assumptions Not Facts
The FDA assumed the contaminated romaine is from Yuma, AZ, area because of the illness onset dates. The region generally supplies romaine lettuce to the U.S. during November-March each year. The first person infected from the E.Coli outbreak became ill on March 13. However, the produce industry insists that the Yuma area romaine harvest was already completed by March. The shelf life of romaine is 21 days after harvest. California and Arizona grow nearly 100% of all U.S. produced romaine lettuce. These two states grow, harvest, and ship over 130 million servings daily.
Regardless, leaders at the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) organizations have said numerous times in the past two months that their industry is doing everything possible to help the FDA pinpoint who grew, chopped and distributed the implicated romaine. They have also said they are working with state and federal investigators who are looking for the source of the E. coli that apparently contaminated the romaine.
In fact, LGMA started a task force to determine the origin of the E.Coli outbreak. The steering committee for the task force has 18 members, including co-chairmen who are from Church Brothers Farms and Dole. The other 16 members include representatives from six other produce companies, as well as government officials, researchers, produce trade association leaders, and a representative of the consumer advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness.
The LGMA started after the deadly 2006 E. coli outbreak traced to fresh spinach from California. That outbreak sickened at least 205 people, killing four. The current outbreak has already claimed five lives and is on track to eclipse the number of overall cases confirmed in the 2006 outbreak.
Get Legal Help
E. Coli is bacteria that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections in humans. The CDC estimates the bacteria causes 2,000 hospitalizations each year. Plus, 10% go on to develop more serious complications like hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS can cause kidney failure, damage to the central nervous system, and ultimately death. This is why it is important to seek representation if you are a victim of the multistate E.Coli outbreak or any foodborne contamination. An experienced attorney like those at The Michael Brady Lynch Firm can help you receive compensation for your losses. We have over 20 years representing injured consumers and will use every avenue to get you justice.