E. Coli Death in Kentucky Possibly Linked to American Foods Group Ground Beef RecallDec 3, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
American Foods Group ground beef, recalled last month amid fears that it was tainted with E. coli bacteria, may be implicated in the death of a Kentucky woman. Vickie Shelton, 47, died last Monday afternoon at Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington after being admitted with symptoms consistent with E. coli poisoning. Now, health officials in Knox County, Kentucky are trying to determine if American Foods Group ground beef played a role in Shelton's death, and they are testing samples of ground beef Shelton had reportedly consumed prior to becoming sick. At least two other instances of E. coli poisoning have been tied to the American Foods Group ground beef recall.
The American Foods Group ground beef recall was issue on November 24, 2007. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) deemed the recall a Class I action, with health risks listed as "high." The American Foods Group recall involved ground beef distributed to stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia. The E. coli contaminated ground beef was produced at the American Foods Group meat packing plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 10. The products where distributed for further processing and repackaging, so the tainted ground beef will not bear the processor's establishment number. As the use-by date for products subject to this recall may have expired, consumers can contact their retailers to ask if they received any of these products and if so, consumers are urged to look in their freezers for these products and return or discard them if found.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, E. coli is responsible for sickening 73,000 people every year, and of those, 60 will die from the disease. E. coli is marked by the sudden onset of stomach pain and severe cramps. This is followed by diarrhea that is watery and bloody. Sometimes there is vomiting, but there is no fever. While most people will recover completely, E. coli poisoning can be very dangerous for children, the elderly and anyone with a weak immune system. In some cases, E. coli will cause a disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening.
E. coli tainted meat has become a major health problem, as the number of outbreaks and meat recalls blamed on this deadly bacteria have reached record levels in recent months. So far this year, there have been dozens of recalls of E. coli contaminated meat, more than double what they where in 2006. Often, the slow action by meat processors, the USA and other agencies charged with protecting the US food supply allows E. coli contaminated foods to sicken thousands of people across the country.