The families of two children who fell ill from E. coli food poisoning have filed lawsuits against two meat suppliers who were forced to issue ground beef recalls for more than half a million pounds of meat last week.
The food poisoning lawsuits were filed Tuesday in Plymouth County Superior Court in Massachusetts against South Shore Meats Inc. and Fairbank Farms, Inc. by the parents of 12-year old Andrea Munro and 11-year-old Austin Richmond of Lincoln. Both children were hospitalized and tested positive for E. coli poisoning after eating ground beef products.
Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that there are two unrelated E. coli outbreaks involving meat that is suspected to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. At least 28 cases of E. coli food poisoning can be traced to 545,699 pounds of contaminated ground beef recalled by Fairbank Farms on October 31. At least 20 children from Rhode Island are known to have fallen ill after consuming tainted meat from South Shore Meats Inc., which recalled about 1,000 pounds of ground beef in late October as well.
According to lawsuits filed by the law firm Marler Clark, Munro allegedly fell ill after eating ground beef from Fairbank Farms on September 24, and Richmond is one of the 20 school children who got sick after eating hamburgers made from South Shore Meats, Inc. ground beef while at an environmental camp in Massachusetts.
A New Hampshire man and an unidentified adult from Albany, New York, are believed to have died from Fairbank Farms ground beef food poisoning, the CDC reports. The Albany victim had other underlying health issues which may have been a factor, the CDC reported.
E. coli O157:H7 is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, it can lead to dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover within a few week from E. coli food poisoning, young children and the elderly could be at risk for more severe illness. If the toxin enters the blood stream, E. coli could also lead to kidney failure known as Hemolytic-Urenia Syndrome (HUS).
The outbreaks have been focused mainly in New England, with 45 of the 48 reported cases of illnesses coming from that region of the country. The recalled meat was distributed to stores in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The recalled Fairbanks Farms ground beef was sold at Shaw’s Trader Joe’s Price Chopper, Giant, Ford Brothers, Lancaster and Wild Harvest and BJ’s stores. The packages will have an establishment number of EST 492 inside the USDA mark of inspection or on the nutrition label.
The Fairbanks Farms ground beef was sold under such labels as Shaw’s, Giant’s Nature’s Promise label, and other generic store labels. The meat would have had a sell-by date of September 19 through September 28.