Topps and Price Chopper E. coli Case - New York (2005)


On September 7, 2005, the Albany County Health Department (ACHD) was notified that a child was hospitalized with a diagnosis of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Preliminary laboratory testing of the child’s stool had been conducted at St. Peter’s Hospital, and tests were originally negative for the presence of E. coli O157:H7. ACHD arranged for the stool specimen to be sent to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Wadsworth Center for further testing.

On September 14, ACHD interviewed the child’s parents, and learned that on August 26 the child had consumed a Topps brand quarter pound beef patty that had been purchased at a Price Chopper store. Most of the patties that came in the package of twelve frozen hamburgers had been eaten. Two uncooked patties, however, were still in the parents’ freezer.

On September 15, the child’s stool sample results came back positive for the presence of E. coli O157:H7, and NYSDOH asked to test the leftover meat for the presence of E. coli O157:H7. Six days later, on September 21, the NYSDOH Wadsworth Center reported that E. coli O157:H7 had been cultured in the beef patties collected from the parents’ freezer.

Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis of the meat isolate and the child’s isolate showed the two were indistinguishable, confirming that the meat was the source of the child’s infection with E. coli O157:H7.

Marler Clark represented the child’s family in a claim against Topps and Price Chopper. The claim was resolved in late 2007.