2016-08-12 / Front Page

Kittery woman files lawsuit in E. coli outbreak

By ALAN BENNETT
Staff Writer

KITTERY — A Kittery woman has filed a lawsuit on behalf of her 9-year-old son against a New Hampshire beef manufacturer after her son contracted E. coli from eating tainted meat.

Sarah Monks is suing PT Farm after an outbreak of Escherichia coli (E. Coli) 0157:H7, a virulent strain of the food-borne pathogen, sickened her son in June, according to a press release issued Thursday.

Monks purchased meat from the beef manufacturer prior to June 13, when she prepared the meat and fed it to her son. Five days later, her son fell ill and began experiencing diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

The child was hospitalized at York Hospital and later at Boston Children’s Hospital as a result of his illness.

The outbreak has been linked to a single slaughter of cattle at PT Farm in June, the meat from which sickened 14 other people in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont between June 15 to July 10.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service tracked the outbreak, and on July 26 announced PT Farm was recalling about 8,800 pounds of raw beef products from store shelves due to potential contamination.

There are an estimated 73,000 cases of E. coli in the U.S. every year, and about 60 people die as a result of complications from the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the strain of the disease linked to PT Farm is a “Shiga toxin-producing” strain of E. coli, which can produce severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting that may be lifethreatening for some individuals.

Some types of Shiga bacteria that produce E. coli, including the strain referenced in the lawsuit, can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, says the CDC.

Monks is being represented by Bill Marler of Marler Clark, a law firm based out of Seattle that specializes in food safety lawsuits, with special emphasis on E. coli cases. The firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against food giants Dole, ConAgra Foods, Cargill and Jack in the Box.

“All of the illnesses in this outbreak can be traced back to a single slaughter day. This almost perfect record was enough to cause suffering for many, including children,” Marler said in a prepared statement. “Being almost perfect simply isn’t good enough when it comes to food safety.”

“It is the responsibility of all food manufacturers to protect their customers against foodborne illness. This means 365 days a year,” Marler said.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or abennett@journaltribune.com.

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