Lawsuits filed over E.coli-contaminated beef

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Meat

Two lawsuits have been filed in the US after a multi-state outbreak of E.coli 0157:H7 that has so far been linked to two deaths and 28 illnesses.

The suits have been lodged following illnesses that are allegedly linked to contaminated beef recalled by Fairbank Farm and South Shore Meats, a subsidiary of Crocetti’s Oakdale Packing.

The parents of a 12-year-old girl from Massachusetts have launched legal action after saying their daughter was infected with E.coli after eating Fairbank Farm beef in late September.

Beef recall

On October 31, Fairbank Farms issued a recall of 545,699 pounds (248,000 kg) of beef on fears it could be contaminated with E.coli. A cluster of people suffering from E.coli poisoning across a number of states are thought to have eaten beef, with at least some believed to be associated with recalled produce.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that two death and 26 illnesses may be linked to the tainted Fairbanks beef. One of the deaths involved a New York adult with several underlying health conditions, while the other was in New Hampshire, said CDC spokeswoman Lola Scott Russell. The majority of illnesses have been reported in the North Eastern US, with one in Dakota and another in California.

The second of the cases filed by Bill Marler, a lawyer specialising on food safety cases, is on behalf of an 11-year-old boy infected with tainted beef believed to be linked to over 1,000 pounds of meat recalled by South Shore Meats on E.coli fears. It is alleged the child became infected while attending a camp in Plymouth. Around 20 other children from the same camp were also affected.

E.coli row

The latest outbreaks come as the safety of US ground beef has come under national scrutiny. Last month, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tabled proposals to make testing of ground beef for E.coli mandatory. The senator said new legislation was necessary because the meat industry had failed to take corporate responsibility on the matter.

The American Meat Institute has dismissed the need for legislation saying that the industry should be allowed to regulate itself.

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