Attorney Fred Pritzker Speaks on Applebee's E. coli Outbreak
MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pritzker|Olsen, P.A., a Minneapolis law firm representing victims of foodborne illness in cases throughout the United States, has been retained by a young man (Case 0:14-cv-02907) who is one of the first reported cases of E. coli O111 food poisoning associated with food served at an Applebee’s restaurant in the Twin Cities.
Initial reports indicate that some of the sickened people may have eaten Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebee’s restaurants, an item that has subsequently been removed from the menu.
According to attorney Fred Pritzker, this is a significant outbreak for several reasons. First, it involves a less common strain of pathogenic E. coli, O111, rather than the more typical O157:H7. This means that many labs are unlikely to test for it, which also means that the outbreak may prove to be far larger that the initial number of cases would otherwise indicate.
Also, according to Pritzker, the likely food culprit is a fresh vegetable served in a ready-to-eat salad. This means there is no “kill step” (heat) to deactivate the disease causing pathogen.
The fact that vegetables are likely involved also means that the distribution of adulterated food product is almost certainly broader than just Applebee’s restaurants. This is probably why some of the reported cases appear not to be associated with that restaurant chain.
We know from previous vegetable E. coli outbreaks that once adulterated food enters the distribution chain it often ends up in product shipped across the country. This is what occurred in the now infamous spinach outbreak and in many other “salad” outbreaks over the past decade. Thus, tracing back cases from around the country to a single source requires painstaking and time consuming epidemiologic investigation which will continue as new cases are diagnosed.
According to Pritzker, “My firm has represented thousands of foodborne illness victims in hundreds of outbreaks across the country. Virtually all of them involve failure to follow the rules: FDA and USDA regulations, industry guidelines and, worst of all, the offending company’s own safety rules. The sad fact of this outbreak, like so many others, is that it’s preventable; it should never have happened.”
In the meantime, transparency is required. Investigating agencies and restaurant chains should promptly disclose distribution chains so sickened patrons can be identified and wrongdoers held accountable.
PrizkerOlsen is a national food safety law firm with offices in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attorney Fred Pritzker has won millions for food poisoning victims in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against restaurants, food processors and others. Fred and attorneys Brendan Flaherty and Ryan Osterholm can be contacted at 612-338-0202 or via their food safety blog regarding a lawsuit against Applebee’s.