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E. coli Lawsuit Filed Over Tainted Meat That Sickened People in 16 States

An E. coli poisoning lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was hospitalized after eating tainted beef that was part of a recent nationwide meat recall that has caused at least 21 cases of food poisoning in 16 different states.

The complaint was filed last week in 3rd District Court in Utah, on behalf of a boy identified only as “CD.” According to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune, the boy was hospitalized for two days with gastrointestinal bleeding after eating contaminated meat linked to an E. coli outbreak that surfaced late last year in Utah, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Washington.

As a result of this food poisoning outbreak, about 248,000 pounds of meat distributed by Oklahoma-based National Steak and Poultry were recalled on Christmas-eve. The recall included a number of different blade tenderized beef products, including sirloin tips and skirt steaks.

The meat was reportedly contaminated with a strain of bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7, which is one of the more common causes of food poisoning in the United States. When left untreated, the illness can lead to hospitalization, dehydration and potentially life-threatening illness. While most healthy adults recover within a few week from food poisoning caused by E. coli, 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).

USDA and CDC officials say that the tenderization process, which involves the meat being poked by hundreds of thin needles, may increase the risk of E. coli on the surface being pushed into the interior of the meat, where heat from cooking is less likely to kill it if it is not heated all the way through. About 50 million pounds of meat was tenderized this way per month in 2008, according to the USDA.

The E. coli beef lawsuit is believed to be the first case filed as a result of the food poisoning outbreak linked to meat distributed by National Steak and Poultry.

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