E. coli and Food Recalls: Progress, Really?

Food Poison Journal

Posted on August 25, 2009 by Drew Falkenstein

The Wisconsin State Journal recently published an excerpt from an interview on the increased number of food recalls we have seen in the last few years.  In the interview, Dr. Kathleen Glass of the Food Research Institute at UW-Madison concluded, in part at least, "That the food-safety system is working, even though the number of recalls is rising."  This inspired me to respond with a slightly different take on the safety of our food safety system as a whole.

Over the last several years—in fact, beginning with the infamous Dole baby spinach outbreak in September 2006—fully 90% of the people we, at Marler Clark, have represented have been victims of severe E. coli O157:H7 infections, sometimes resulting in hemolytic uremic syndrome. And aside from approximately 100 spinach victims, close to 95% of these folks were sickened by contaminated ground beef. This may be nothing more than a real world application of non-scientific fact. Whatever the case, it sure doesn’t jibe well with Dr. Glass’s optimism about our food safety system, as a whole, or ground beef more specifically.

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