What is an E. Coli Infection?
Escherichia coli, better known simply as E. coli, is a type of bacteria that causes severe cramps and gastrointestinal (GI) illness. There are a number of different forms of E. coli bacteria, most of which are relatively harmless to humans. However, certain strains can cause bloody diarrhea, anemia, kidney failure, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and even death. E. coli infection is more common during the summer months and in northern states.
What is E. Coli 0157:H7?
E. coli O157:H7 is one of hundreds of strains of Escherichia coli, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, O157:H7 produces a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. About 2 – 7% of E. coli O157 infections lead to HUS, the agency said.
What is Shiga Toxin-Producing (STEC) E. Coli?
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), which may also be referred to as Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli (VTEC) or enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), is the pathotype of E. coli most often associated with food poisoning outbreaks, according to the CDC. Most cases of infection occur by eating contaminated food, particularly raw or undercooked meat. Infections can also develop from eating any product that has been contaminated with STEC, including lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, salami, and raw (unpasteurized) milk, juice, or cider. Symptoms of STEC infections can vary, but most often include severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Symptoms of E. Coli
In general, symptoms of E. coli infection begin 3 to 4 days after exposure to the offending pathogen, though you may become ill slightly sooner or later. Signs and symptoms include:
- Diarrhea (may be watery and/or bloody)
- Abdominal cramping, pain or tenderness
(Courtesy Mayo Clinic)
For most E. coli infections, what a person doesn’t do to treat symptoms is as important as what the person does do, according to Everyday Health. The article recommends avoiding E. coli treatment with antibiotics and anti-diarrheal medications, as they can actually increase your risk of developing HUS compared to a placebo, according to several peer-reviewed studies. What you can do to effectively treat E. coli, is:
- Get plenty of rest
- Stay hydrated
- Take small sips (can help prevent vomiting)
- Avoid foods that worsen symptoms (apple and pear juices, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, dairy, fatty foods, and high-fiber foods)
- Gradually add bland food into your diet
The vast majority of E. coli illnesses are asymptomatic, or mild and self-limited, and most people endure the infection without seeking professional medical attention. In clinically apparent cases, most patients respond to supportive therapy, with recovery within 2 to 5 days, according to Epocrates. The majority of deaths in the developing world are due to volume depletion and/or dehydration.
Poor Toilet Hygiene Leading Cause of E. Coli Superbug Infections
October 23, 2019 – Not washing your hands after using the bathroom can spread antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli bacteria faster than eating undercooked meats, according to the BBC. Scientists examined thousands of blood, fecal and food samples, and found human-to-human transmission was the principle method bacteria was spread – “faecal particles from one person reaching the mouth of another,” according to the researchers. Public Health England said hand-washing and good hygiene were key to preventing the spread of E. coli infections.
ShopRite Beef Recall
- 10-pound cardboard box packages containing bulk plastic wrapped raw frozen ground beef gyros labeled “Devanco Foods Chicago’s Favorite” Gyros Slices (Strips) with a case code 159 19.
- 10-pound cardboard box packages containing bulk plastic wrapped raw frozen ground beef gyros labeled “Kronos Halal Gyros Strips” Halal Certified Beef Gyros Uncooked, IQF Strips with a case code 19 159.
- Retail-sized (8 patties) cardboard box packages containing “Ziyad Premium Quality Beef Hamburger Patties” with a case code 911541.021541.
- Retail-sized (8 kabobs) cardboard box packages containing “Ziyad Premium Quality Uncooked Kufta Kabob” with a case code 911154.021154.
- 8-pound cardboard box packages containing bulk plastic wrapped raw frozen ground beef patties labeled “Shop Rite 100% Pure Quarter Pound Ground Beef Hamburgers” and a sell by date of June 7, 2020.
- 3-pound cardboard box packages containing plastic wrapped raw frozen ground beef patties labeled “Shop Rite 100% Pure Ground Beef Hamburgers” and a sell by date of June 6, 2020.
- 2-pound cardboard box packages containing plastic wrapped raw frozen ground beef patties labeled “Landis Brand 100% All Beef Patties 8 Quarter Pound Patties” and a sell by date of June 7, 2020.
Affected products were distributed to institutions and retailers in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Philadelphia E. Coli Outbreak Claims 19th Victim
September 23, 2019 – Health officials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have added another patient to a mysterious E. coli outbreak linked to “shared restaurant exposure,” according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The agency reported on the spate of illnesses earlier this month, but failed to name the restaurant(s) or offer any additional information.
“A total of 19 cases were identified in this cluster,” said health department spokesman James Garrow. “The last report was received on Sept. 6, and our investigation into the source continues.”
E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Minnesota State Fair Petting Zoo
September 19, 2019 – Health officials say at least 11 people developed E. coli infections after visiting the Miracle of Birth exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair, according to CBS News. Patients ranged in age from 2-years old to 43; 6 were hospitalized for complications and 1 was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Joni Scheftel, a Minnesota state public health veterinarian, confirmed the outbreak strain of E. coli 0157 had been traced to the Miracle of Birth exhibit. She said most if not all of those who had fallen ill reported some contact with calves, goats or sheep before developing symptoms.
“E. coli doesn’t make animals sick and it’s not a pathogen,” Scheftel said. “It doesn’t cause disease in animals. You can’t tell they’re carrying it, but it’s a serious germ in people.”
Ground Bison Produced by Canadian Firm Linked to E. Coli Outbreak in U.S.
July 19, 2019 – A multi-state outbreak of at least 21 E. coli infections has been linked to ground bison produced by Northfork Bison Distributors, Inc. of Canada, according to a recall notice issued Wednesday by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Gold Medal Flour Recalled Over E. Coli Contamination
September 18, 2019 – FDA on Monday announced a nationwide recall for 5-pound bags of Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour, according to WAFB 9. Affected products have a better-if-used-by date of September 6, 2020. If you purchased any flour that is included in this recall, you should discard it immediately or return it to the point of purchase for a refund.
E. Coli Food Poisoning Recall Timeline
January 9, 2019 – Health Officials investigate a multi-state outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to romaine lettuce from the Central California Coast. On December 13, 2018, Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., in Santa Barbara County recalled red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and cauliflower harvested November 27-30, 2018. Spokane Produce, Inc. of Spokane, Washington followed suit on December 18 by recalling sandwiches and other products under the Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh & Local labels.
ALDI Recalls Baker’s Corner Flour Linked to Multistate E. Coli Outbreak
May 28, 2019 – The CDC is warning about an E. Coli outbreak linked to raw flour that was recalled last week by the supermarket chain ALDI and sold under The Baker’s Corner brand which sickened at least 17 people in 8 states.
ALDI said in a Press Release (PDF) on Thursday that the recall affects 5-pound bags of The Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour, which the company recalled on May 23, 2019, after routine testing by the FDA identified the presence of E. coli bacteria in samples taken from a Buffalo, New York, production facility owned and operated by ADM Milling Co.
According to the CDC, at least 17 people in 8 states have been sickened with the outbreak strain of E. coli. Illness onset dates range from Dec. 11, 2018, to April 18, 2019, and affected patients ages 7 to 86, the agency said.
“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates flour is a likely source of this outbreak,” CDC said.
At least 3 people have been hospitalized to treat complications associated with their illnesses, and no deaths have been reported.
“This investigation is ongoing,” CDC said. “FDA is working to determine whether other brands or lots of flour may be potentially contaminated and need to be recalled. CDC will provide updates when more information is available.”
Labeling of the recalled flour contains the following information, which should be used to help you determine whether your flour is contaminated with E. coli:
- Best-If-Used-By Date – December 2, 2019
- UPC Code – 041498130404
- Lot Code – L18A02B
Affected products were shipped to ALDI grocery stores in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.
Illinois Firm Recalls Ground Beef Over E. Coli Contamination
May 23, 2019 – Aurora Packing Company, Inc., a North Aurora, Illinois-based company, is recalling more than 60,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, a potentially deadly foodborne pathogen, FSIS reported on Wednesday.
The recalled beef was packaged on April 19, 2019, FSIS said. All of the recalled meats bear the establishment number “Est. 788” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The products were distributed nationwide for further distribution and processing, FSIS said.
The potential contamination was noted during routine inspection activities by the FSIS. To date, there have been no E. coli infections or other adverse events associated with the recalled meat, the agency said.
FSIS is concerned that some of the meat affected by Wednesday’s recall may be in institutional facility freezers. Institutions who have purchased these products are urged not to use them, the agency said. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase for a refund.
Georgia Firm Recalls Ground Beef Over E. Coli Contamination
May 2, 2019 – Colorado Premium Foods, a Carrolton, Georgia-based company, has issued a nationwide recall for more than 113,000 pounds of raw ground beef products over potential contamination with E. coli 0103, a bacterium that causes severe foodborne illness, according to a recall notice issued Friday by the CDC.
The CDC and U.S. Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of infections linked to ground beef. Ill people in this outbreak ate ground beef from many sources, CDC said. Some ground beef has been recalled, but more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may still be on the market or in freezers.
The recall affects the following products:
- Two 24-lb. vacuum-packed packages in cardboard boxes containing raw “GROUND BEEF PUCK” with “Use Thru” dates of 4/14/19, 4/17/19, 4/20/19, 4/23/19, 4/28/19, and 4/30/19.
Affected products can be identified with the code “EST. 51308” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The meat was shipped to distributors in Port Orange, Fla., and Norcross, Ga., for further distribution to restaurants.
Romaine Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Traced to California Farm
December 17, 2018 – The strain of E. coli blamed for an outbreak in romaine lettuce has been found in a reservoir on a farm in Santa Barbara County, California, according to a joint investigation by the FDA and CDC.
At the time of the press release, at least 59 people had been sickened in 15 states in the E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, according to the CDC. The agency said 23 people were sick enough to be hospitalized. Canadian health officials reported 27 cases related to the same outbreak.
CDC researchers discovered the strain of E. coli bacteria in the sediment of an irrigation reservoir on a farm in Santa Barbara County on the central coast of California, according to CNN. The farm, Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., stopped distributing the lettuce and is reportedly participating in the investigation.
However, not all E. coli infections associated with the current outbreak are attributable to produce from Adam Bros., therefore contamination must also come from other sources, officials told reporters.
“What we are seeing is that several distributors, processors and farms are appearing in the different stages of this analysis, and not all are specific to this farm,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, former acting commissioner of the FDA. “We are not in a position to conclude that this is the only place that could have been involved in the epidemic.”
The outbreak began in October, and at the beginning, health officials warned U.S. consumers not to eat any romaine lettuce. Late last month, the FDA and CDC said the romaine from 6 California counties was suspect. Now, only 3 counties are involved: Monterrey; San Benito; and Santa Barbara.
Romaine Lettuce Identified as Source of 11-State E. Coli Outbreak
January 12, 2018 – Chopped romaine lettuce grown around Yuma, Arizona, has been identified as the culprit in a recent E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 35 people across 11 states.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) was investigating 8 cases of E. coli in 4 counties last week, with some citing a chain restaurant as the common link, but just the lettuce from the source appears to be the actual cause, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to NJDOH, the county-by-county case breakdown was as follows:
- 4 cases in Hunterdon County
- 1 case in Monmouth
- 1 case in Sussex
- 1 case in Somerset
All restaurants and retailers have been asked by the CDC to ask their food suppliers about the source of their romaine lettuce, and to stop selling or servicing any that was grown in Yuma, Arizona.
“Individuals with this infection usually get better within about 5 to 7 days, however some illnesses can be serious or even life-threatening,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “Anyone experiencing symptoms of this illness should see a healthcare provider.”
General Mills Flour Recall Expanded After More E. Coli Reports
January 25, 2016 – General Mills is expanding its massive flour recall again after 4 more E. coli illnesses linked to the products have been confirmed.
General Mills announced the original recall on May 31 after its flour was linked to an outbreak of E. coli. The action initially included certain sizes of Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature Kitchens brand flour that were produced from November 4, 2015 to December 4, 2015. The company announced Monday that it is extending affected production dates included in the recall through February 10, 2016.
This move comes after General Mills confirmed 4 new food poisoning cases associated with the recall. The illnesses were reported by customers who ate or improperly handled raw dough or batter made with the affected flour.
“At this time, it is unknown if we are experiencing a higher prevalence of E. coli in flour than normal, if this is an issue isolated to General Mills’ flour, or if this is an issue across the flour industry,” General Mills said in the press release.
The company noted that flour is made from wheat grown outdoors where it can be exposed to bacteria. The cooking process can help kill bacteria, so consumers should never eat anything with raw flour in it.
This is the second time General Mills is expanding the recall since the original action on May 31. Earlier this month, the company recalled 3 flavors of Betty Crocker cake mix that were made with Wondra flour that was included in the original recall.
Ground Beef Recall Linked to Multi-State E. Coli Outbreak
May 22, 2014 – At least 11 people in 4 states were diagnosed with severe E. coli infections linked to ground beef produced by a packing company in Detroit, according to a press release from the CDC. Within days of the initial recall being announced, the action expanded to distributors and restaurants across the U.S.
The Detroit-based Wolverine Packing Company issued the recall for nearly 2 million pounds of ground beef after the FSIS determined the product may have been tainted with E. coli bacteria. Affected products were processed between March 31st and April 18th, 2014, and shipped to distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio to be used in restaurants.
The ground beef in question featured the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and a production date code reading “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”
USDA Institutes ‘Zero-Tolerance Policy’ for New E. Coli Strains
June 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will being implementing new safety standards for six additional strains of E. coli bacteria that have been known to cause illnesses in humans. Under the new policy, FSIS will test raw beef manufacturing trim, which is what ground beef is mainly composed of, for the serotypes. Trim found to be contaminated will not be allowed into commerce and will be subject to recall.
Food poisoning illnesses caused by E. coli 0157:H7, which is generally thought to be the most widespread variety of the bacteria, are actually greatly outnumbered by other lesser-known serotypes. “These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation’s food supply.” The strains that will be tested for under the new policy are:
- Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145
Like E. coli 0157:H7, these serotypes have the potential to cause serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses. Children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk. In addition to these policy changes, FSIS has recently implemented a number of other significant public health measures designed to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers’ knowledge about the foods they eat. These initiatives are intended to support the three core principles of President Barack Obama’s Food Safety Working Group:
- prioritizing prevention;
- strengthening surveillance and enforcement;
- improving response and recovery.
Some of the group’s recent actions include:
- Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known;
- Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products;
- Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates;
- Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens.
After two years of enforcing these standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented annually under the updated Campylobacter requirements, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the revised Salmonella standards.
New Standards Announced to Reduce E. Coli Contamination
May 2010 – Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced new standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in young chickens and turkeys. FSIS also released a compliance guide to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter, and a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli contamination in cattle.
“There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the President’s Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness,” said Vilsack. “The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter.”
By revising current performance standards and setting new ones, FSIS is encouraging establishments to make continued improvement in the occurrence and level of pathogens in the products they produce. FSIS developed the stricter performance standards using recently completed studies to measure the baseline prevalence of E. coli in young chicken and turkey carcasses nationwide.
Under our system of law, a person injured by E. coli food poisoning has to prove three things in order to make a successful claim:
- Fault – that the food seller or processor did something wrong with regard to food processing, preparation, storage or handling.
- Causation – the fault of the seller or processor caused the food to become contaminated and that the contaminated food actually caused the illness.
- Damages – the harms and losses suffered by the victim as a result of consuming the contaminated food
January 25, 2018 – Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Leafy Greens. CDC said 25 people from 15 states were infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7. Illness onset dates ranged from Nov. 5, 2017, to Dec. 12, 2017. Nine people were hospitalized, including 2 people who were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, and 1 death was reported in California.
September 20, 2018 – Morgan, Colorado-based Cargill Solutions recalled ground beef products produced on June 21, 2018, and affixed with the establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The outbreak infected at least 18 people from 4 states, CDC said.
Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 5, 2018 to July 25, 2018.
May 4, 2017 – Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to I.M. Healthy Brand SoyNut Butter. Thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from 12 states. Twelve people were hospitalized and 9 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths were reported. Of the 32 ill, 26 (81%) were younger than 18 years.
February 1, 2016 – Multistate Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O26 Infections Linked to Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants. Health officials in several states investigated 2 separate outbreaks of STEC O26 infections. In the larger outbreak, at least 55 people from 11 states were diagnosed with STEC O26. Twenty-one ill people were hospitalized.
In the smaller outbreak, at least 5 people from 3 states were infected with a different outbreak strain of STEC O26. One person was hospitalized for complications.
March 25, 2016 – Multistate Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli O157 Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts Produced by Jack & The Green Sprouts. Eleven people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157 were reported from Minnesota (8) and Wisconsin (3). Two ill people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported.
October 19, 2016 – Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Beef, Veal and Bison Products from Adams Farm. The recalled meats were marked with the number EST. 5497 inside the USDA mark of inspection. Eleven people with the outbreak strain were reported in 5 states. Seven people were hospitalized. One developed HUS.
December 22, 2015: Multistate Outbreak of STEC O157: H7 Infections Linked to Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad. At least 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli were reported from 7 states. Most illnesses occurred in the Western U.S. Five people were hospitalized, and 2 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths were reported.
(Courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
What’s the Problem With Raw Flour?
FDA has warned against the eating of raw dough, batter, or cake mixture due to the risk of E. coli infections. The agency updated its guidelines in Dec. 2017 following an investigation into an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121 that occurred a year earlier where raw flour was determined to be the cause.
Flour is derived from milling wheat, a cereal grain that is grown outdoors which carries a risk of bacterial pathogens which are easily killed by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw dough products or flour, and to never eat raw dough or batter, FDA said.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)
Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a severe, potentially fatal type of kidney failure that typically occurs shortly after foodborne E. coli infections, most often in children under the age of 10. HUS is characterized by damage and destruction to the red blood cells, which leads to a lower than normal number of red blood cells (anemia), blood clots, and damage to blood vessel walls. Signs and symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome include:
- Diarrhea, especially bloody
- Abdominal pain
- Absence of fever
Can I File an E. Coli Class Action?
Although Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is a nationally recognized class action firm, we have decided against this type of litigation when it comes to E. coli food poisoning cases. Our lawyers feel that if there is a successful resolution to these cases, individual suits, not class actions will be the best way to get maximum payouts to our clients. If you’ve been injured by food poisoning, we know you’ve suffered emotionally and economically, and want to work with you personally to obtain the maximum compensation for the damages caused by your injuries. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.
Do I Have an E. Coli Lawsuit?
The Food Poisoning Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in E. coli lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.