KFC Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuit - Colorado (2002)


On January 17, 2002, the Boulder County Health Department (BCHD) received a report that two children who had been treated at Avista Medical Center had submitted stool specimens that tested positive for Salmonella. The children, ages one and two, were not from the same home, nor did they attend a common school or daycare.

After interviewing both families, BCHD investigators learned that both infected children had eaten at the KFC located at 255 South Boulder Road in Lafayette, Colorado, 24 hours before the onset of symptoms.

On January 18, BCHD conducted an inspection at the KFC. Two counts of potential cross-contamination were noted: Water used to wet the chicken pieces before battering was left out for nearly three hours at a time, “allowing for bacterial growth,” and the flour mixture used to batter the chicken was used for periods of more than four hours. BCHD’s inspection report noted:

The mixture should only be used for 4 hours. This mixture should be discarded and replaced every four hours…refrigeration of this mixture in between preparation will not maintain the low temperatures needed to suppress bacterial growth.

Additionally, BCHD investigators cited the outlet for poor employee hygiene and “failure to maintain food at proper holding temperatures-hot hold at 140-degrees F.”

Tests conducted on the stool isolates from both infected children by the Colorado Department of Public Heath and Environment confirmed that they were infected with the same strain of the bacteria: Salmonella Newport. Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) testing was also conducted by the state. The results of this testing showed that the PFGE patterns of the strain that infected the two children had the same “genetic fingerprint,” indicating that their Salmonella Newport infections came from the same source. As the initial investigation found, the only source that both children had in common was the food they ate that was prepared at the KFC.

Marler Clark represented the family of the two-year-old child who tested positive for Salmonella in claims against KFC. The boy and his three-year-older sister both became ill after eating at the restaurant, although the girl’s illness was not as severe as her brother’s. As a result of his Salmonella infection, the boy was hospitalized for two days and underwent several medical procedures, including a later surgery to repair umbilical and epigastric hernias caused by the severity of his Salmonella infection symptoms. The firm resolved the family’s claim in 2004.

Additional Case News