Food Poisoning: Investigating Sysco Beef Patties Recall

Have you or anyone in your family ever been a victim of food poisoning? There is a new case of contaminated meat that may be of interest to you. An Indiana law firm is investigating the recent recall of 16,800 pounds of ground beef patties by Sysco Seattle, Inc. because of possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. Specifically, they are investigating to determine if there have been any food borne illness victims from this potentially adulterated meat, and to identify possible parties who may be liable under the theory of strict liability.

This voluntary recall by Sysco here in the United States comes in the wake of a Canadian meat recall that has been going on since mid-February 2012. That is when Canadian officials traced E. coli contamination of over 135 meat products across Canada to an Ontario based processor, New Food Classics. Specifically, investigators found the source to be a particular meat processing plant owned by New Food Classics, located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. New Foods has now reportedly gone into bankruptcy since these recalls have been launched.

Sysco, a Washington state based company, purchased the potentially tainted meat from New Food Classics and sold it all to one customer with restaurants in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington. A spokesman for Sysco, Charley Wilson, has refused to identify the restaurant in question, although many members of the public have been outraged by this lack of disclosure. Instead, Wilson has stated, “We know exactly where the meat is.” Further, he stated, “We know the time frames. It’s just a matter of it being tracked down.”

It does not appear from current investigations that any of the meat was sold in grocery stores, but instead all the meat went to these restaurants of the one Sysco customer. However, at this time there are still many unknowns, including whether any of these prime rib beef patties went out to feed customers from the unknown restaurant’s menu, and in addition, how much of the meat has been recovered since announcement of the recall within a USDA press release on March 24, 2012. Starr Austen & Miller, based in Logansport, Indiana, is awaiting further information and answers to these basic questions from local health department and other officials.

The particular strain of E. coli that may have contaminated these ground beef patties can be particularly lethal, known as the O157:H7 variety, which produces the Shiga toxin that creates ulcers in the colon that can bleed and other severe medical problems as the toxin spreads throughout the body. The symptoms of infection with this E. coli strain may include bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure, and is especially ravaging on both the young and old. The bacteria can be killed if the beef is cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. The incubation period for E. coli O157:H7, which is the time between ingestion and first symptoms, is typically between 2-8 days, with the average being 3-4 days. Therefore, those people who may have ingested adulterated meat within these unknown restaurants may now just be showing symptoms.

In general, if you feel you may be a victim of food poisoning from this contaminated meat, please seek medical attention immediately. Make sure your physician does appropriate tests, preferably before any antibiotics are administered, to determine what particular food borne pathogen is responsible for your symptoms. Further, have the doctor report such findings to the local health department in your area to see if you’re symptoms are part of a larger outbreak.

If you’ve contracted an E. coli O157:H7 infection, the firm suggests that a good food safety lawyer will use the tests from your doctor, along with other evidence from microbiology and epidemiology to trace the pathogen back to the particular food product or source you consumed. With strict liability for food poisoning cases, you must prove three critical elements: the food was contaminated, causation and damages. By taking these proactive steps when seeking medical attention, along with contacting knowledgeable counsel, it can mean the difference between proving your case and never getting anyone to take responsibility for the damages caused to your health and well-being through no fault of your own.

Since 1982 Starr, Mario Massillamany has emerged with a strong reputation as a small, passionate law firm in Indiana that takes on large, complex cases. Currently, Starr, Austen & Miller LLP has pending litigation against DuPont for the environmental damages caused by their Imprelis product. Starr, Austen & Miller LLP handles stock broker fraud cases, truck accident cases, and multimillion dollar, nationwide class actions.