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Food Poisoning Blog -- The Whole Foods Ground Beef E. coli Recall

Here is what we know so far about the Whole Foods ground beef E. coli recall.  So far, there are two reported cases of Pennsylvanians being sickened by E. coli bacteria after eating ground beef purchased at Whole Foods.  Check back here for updates as new information becomes available:On August 1, 2008, Massachusetts health officials informed Whole Foods that that seven people who had gotten sick from E. coli 0157:H7 food poisoning had all bought ground beef from Whole Foods.On August 8, 2008, Whole Foods announced a voluntary recall in select states of all fresh ground beef due to the possibility of contamination with the E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria.  This recall affects all ground beef sold by Whole Foods between June 2 and August 6, 2008 in the following states:   Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington D. C., Wisconsin and Canada.  The store also acknowledged that its voluntary recall came as a result of investigations into confirmed cases of E. coli 0157:H7 contamination in Virginia, Ohio, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

Whole Foods obtained the tainted ground beef from a company called Coleman Natural Foods.  Coleman Natural Foods obtained the tainted ground beef from Nebraska Beef Ltd., an Omaha meat packing outfit with a long history of food safety and other violations.  In July, 2008, Nebraska Beef recalled more than 5 million pounds of beef produced in May and June after its meat was blamed for a separate E. coli outbreak in seven states. In August 2008, Nebraska Beef recalled an additional 1.2 million pounds of beef produced on June 17, June 24 and July 8.  This recall included ground beef products that were sold to Whole Foods.

In its August 8 recall notice, Whole Foods said it had received assurances from Coleman Natural Foods at the time of the July 2008 Nebraska Beef recall that no product delivered by Coleman to Whole Foods Market was linked to the Nebraska Beef recall.  Obviously, these assurances, if given, were inaccurate.

On August 11, 2008, Whole Foods announced that it would tighten oversight of its suppliers to keep substandard products off its shelves.  Whole Foods acknowledged that it failed to catch an important change made by Coleman Natural Foods.  After coming under new ownership, Coleman began using meat processed at the Nebraska Beef facility in Omaha.  Whole Foods acknowledged that a code stamped on beef packages arriving at its stores accurately reflected this change in processing plants.  However, Whole Foods did not have the necessary procedures in place to monitor the codes on arriving meat packages, and therefore failed to notice it was now receiving beef processed at the Nebraska Beef facility.  According to Whole Foods the company will now institute procedures to detect all such changes in the future.  Whole Foods also will now require E. coli testing of beef that goes beyond government requirements.

If you have been diagnosed with E. coli food poisoning and you would like to find out whether you have a food poisoning legal case, call us at 412-471-4300 , or email us.  At Berger & Lagnese, our attorneys specialize in food poisoning cases and work on cases in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Uniontown, Beaver, Erie, Washington, and all courts in Western Pennsylvania.  Our team of lawyers will help you find out how you became infected with E. coli and will help you determine whether you have a food poisoning case.