Food Safety Attorneys At Pritzker Hageman Cite Severity Of E. Coli Cases As Evidence Of Unusual Virulence - Call For Faster Traceback Process To Protect Public Health

Nov. 26, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The food safety legal team at law firm Pritzker Hageman, P.A. tracks all foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, including the current E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that has been tied to romaine lettuce from the Salinas growing region in California. Unusually large numbers of very sick patients in this outbreak have attorneys on the team particularly concerned. "This outbreak could easily end up being one of the more dangerous E. coli outbreaks we have seen in recent years," stated food safety attorney Fred Pritzker. "The percentage of people being hospitalized and developing serious complications is much greater than usual."

Rate of Serious Complications Appears to be Much Greater Than Normal

One of the things that makes E. coli O157:H7 particularly dangerous is that it produces Shiga toxin which can cause both intestinal damage and hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a blood disorder that can lead to kidney failure. 

In a typical Shiga toxin producing E. coli outbreak HUS occurs in only a very small percentage of cases. As of November 22, the CDC had identified 40 victims tied to the current outbreak. Among those 40 victims were 28 hospitalizations and 5 HUS cases. This, by itself, would be 3 times the average rate of HUS expected from an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. However, the food safety legal team at Pritzker Hageman has been contacted by a number of additional HUS victims that have not yet been included in the official count, leading the team to conclude that this strain of E. coli is likely far more virulent than typical. This means that consumers, especially children and the elderly, who are exposed to E. coli tainted products may be at significantly greater risk than would otherwise be expected.

Faster Action Must be Taken to Protect the Health and Lives of Consumers

The typical risk of serious illness from E. coli contaminated products is considerable enough to warrant fast action by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the FDA and local health departments. This outbreak, however, underscores that the risk can be even greater when a particularly virulent strain of E. coli is involved.

Despite multiple large E. coli outbreaks being tied to romaine in recent years, including a nationwide recall of romaine lettuce just before Thanksgiving last year, industry has been very slow to adopt the types of tracking systems that would speed up tracing contaminated products back to their source. If these tracking systems were in place, investigators would have a much easier time quickly figuring out where contaminated products were coming from and where they were ending up. These systems could save the health, and possibly the lives, of many. "Despite multiple recalls related to this outbreak, there is likely still a lot of E. coli tainted product sitting on store shelves, in people's homes, and especially in institutional refrigerators and freezers," stated Pritzker. "We need to improve the speed at which investigators are able to trace these contaminated products back to their source and we need to be able to identify every product that might be affected. Once contamination has occurred, quickly identifying affected products is the only way to protect people from further infections."


Pritzker Hageman, P.A. is national food safety law firm representing E. coli victims in multiple states in this outbreak. Attorneys on their award-winning food safety legal team have successfully represented clients in many of the worst E. coli outbreaks in the country over the past 30 years - including collecting what is believed to be the largest verdict ever in a United States E. coli poisoning trial.

Lead food safety attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman are representing multiple clients in this outbreak, including ones with HUS. They are available to be interviewed on this outbreak, E. coli contamination and food safety.