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Illinois food poisoning lawyersThis fall, food poisoning outbreaks have surged throughout the country, including recent E. coli outbreaks. The FDA and CDC have been busy investigating illnesses in this fall’s third multistate outbreak of E. coli. According to the CDC, infections have been reported in six states, with at least 12 people infected and five hospitalized and one-third of all reported cases coming from Illinois. The identified source, however, was distributed to 19 states and Puerto Rico, leaving a large number of people at risk of contracting food poisoning. At Newland & Newland, LLP, we fight for those who have fallen ill to foodborne illnesses as a result of food vendors’ negligence, including products sold in grocery stores across the nation.

The Source of the Outbreak

The recently released CDC notice connects the E. coli outbreak to a brand of romaine lettuce that is sold in grocery stores nationwide, including Walmart. The lettuce is sold under the name Tanimura & Antle, and the recalled lettuce was labeled with a “packed on” date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020. The lettuce was lab tested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the outbreak strain was identified in a sample of the company’s single-head romaine lettuce. Illinois holds the highest number of cases, with four recorded. Though the E. coli strain was found in the sampled lettuce, the CDC stated that they were unable to definitively determine whether the Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce did indeed cause the illnesses. In order to protect consumers, those who have purchased the lettuce have been advised to avoid consuming the product.

Where Does the Bacteria Come From?

E. coli is typically transmitted through the consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked meats, raw milk, and particular fruits and vegetables. The bacteria is due to fecal contamination. For fruits and vegetables, such as the lettuce listed above, the contamination is often due to contact with feces from domestic animals or wild animals during the plants’ cultivation. For both meat and produce, contaminated water can also be the culprit. Fecally contaminated water that is used during the food preparation process can lead to E. coli outbreaks upon consumption.

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Jimmy John’s Receives FDA Warning About Contaminated ProduceThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the sandwich restaurant chain Jimmy John’s, claiming that the franchise has repeatedly purchased adulterated produce. The FDA identified sprouts and cucumbers as the adulterated products and cited five outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella linked to the restaurants since 2012. Though Jimmy John’s removed sprouts from its stores as a precautionary measure, the FDA said the franchise needs to take corrective action to prevent such outbreaks from continuing to occur. E. coli and salmonella infections can be potentially fatal to young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

What Is Adulterated Produce?

Adulterating food normally refers to adding or replacing ingredients in a food product that may cause harm to those who consume it. For instance, a food manufacturer may replace a natural ingredient in its product with an artificial one, which causes people to become sick upon eating it. In the Jimmy John’s case, the E. coli and salmonella are not artificial ingredients but poisonous substances that have contaminated the produce. Though the producer did not intentionally add the contaminants, it still meets the legal definition of adulterated because there is enough of the contaminant to cause harm.

History of Outbreaks

The FDA accused Jimmy John’s of lacking the control mechanisms to prevent it from continuing to purchase contaminated produce. As previously referenced, the FDA cited five recent food poisoning cases:

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Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Hits U.S. for Third YearThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 67 people have become sick since Sept. 24 due to E. coli found in romaine lettuce. Consumers are warned to not eat romaine that was grown in Salinas, California, and to avoid purchasing romaine if it does not say where it was grown. According to the CDC, 39 people have been hospitalized, with six of those patients developing kidney failure. Illnesses have been reported across 19 states, including one person in Illinois who was hospitalized. The CDC is still investigating the source of the contamination and whether products from other areas are contaminated.

History of Outbreaks

This is the third consecutive year that the same strain of E. coli has been linked to leafy greens sold in the U.S.:

  • In 2017, 25 people in 15 states became ill with E. coli between Nov. 5 and Dec. 12, with one patient in California dying. The CDC identified leafy greens as the likely source of the outbreak based on patient interviews but were unable to identify a specific type of leafy green that was responsible.
  • In 2018, 62 people in 16 states were infected with E. coli between Oct. 7 and Dec. 4, with 25 of them being hospitalized. Investigators traced the contamination back to a water reservoir for a farm in Santa Barbara, California, which provided romaine lettuce for retailers and restaurants. The CDC was unsure of why there was E. coli in the water supply and in which ways the water contaminated the lettuce.

Lettuce and E. Coli

It is imperative to throw out lettuce that is believed to have been contaminated by E. coli and to sterilize the drawer that it was in. People usually show symptoms from an E. coli infection after three or four days, which commonly include stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. Scientists and lettuce growers do not know what is causing the continued E. coli contaminations or how to prevent them. Suspected causes include:

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E. Coli in Ground Beef Sends More than 20 People to HospitalTwo ground beef distributors were recently forced to recall their products after an E. coli outbreak that sickened 177 people in 10 states. Though no one is reported to have died, 21 people have been hospitalized since the outbreak started in March. One of the distributors is based in the Chicago area and at least one of the victims is from Illinois. Victims have reportedly eaten the contaminated beef both at home and in restaurants. A Kentucky woman has already filed a lawsuit against one of the packing companies, claiming that the contaminated ground beef caused her to suffer kidney failure and seizures.

Dangers of E. Coli

The ground beef products contained a strain of E. coli O103. Ground beef has a higher-than-average risk of E. coli contamination because bacteria from the cattle’s intestines can infect the meat and ground beef can contain multiple cattle, which increases the risk that one of them had E. coli. Symptoms from consuming E. coli can take three-to-four days to develop and may include:

  • Stomach cramps;
  • Diarrhea, often bloody; and
  • Vomiting.

The symptoms can last seven days. In some cases, a patient may develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening.

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Multi-State E.Coli Cases Potentially Linked to Panera Bread

A recent E.Coli outbreak that caused 17 illnesses in seven states likely got its start at Panera Bread locations in New Jersey, according to state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of early April 2018, there were eight reported cases of E.Coli poisoning connected with Panera Bread locations in central New Jersey. Additional cases linked to this outbreak were reported in Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Missouri.

In total, the 17 reported illnesses resulted in six hospitalizations. The victims are primarily female and between the ages of 12 and 84. The illnesses reported so far occurred in March 2018. Like many other types of food poisoning, E.Coli is typically not harmful to adults with healthy immune systems, but can cause victims to suffer unpleasant symptoms.

Foods Linked to E.Coli

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