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Attorney Wants Officials to Trace E. coli to Source

March 11, 1999

Meat Industry Internet News Service

SEATTLE—(Business Wire)—The attorney who represented victims of the last major outbreak of E. coli bacteria in fresh food says it is imperative that the contamination causing people in Central Nebraska to get sick be traced to its true source. “I am not surprised if it turns out that the deadly E. coli bacteria was passed by lettuce to the people who became sick in Central Nebraska.

This is not the first time lettuce has been found to be the source of contamination,” says attorney William Marler of the Seattle law firm of Marler Clark. Mr. Marler represented children in several states who were seriously injured from drinking juice made from rotten apples by the California-based Odwalla Inc. “The question,” he adds, “is how was the lettuce contaminated? Was it when it was packaged or was it subjected to cross-contamination at the restaurant.” Food poisonings from fresh foods are becoming ever more common, according to Marler. “E coli O157:H7 is not just a ‘hamburger disease,’” Marler says. “Prior outbreak investigations found examples of lettuce coming into contact with animal feces as its being packed on the farm for shipment.” Marler says the public is being lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to fresh food. He said the public does not know that pre-washed bags of lettuce and pre-cut vegetables still need to be washed and cannot go from “bag to bowl.” In addition, “cross-contamination is always a risk that must be guarded against.”

Marler heads the law firm of Marler Clark. He represented children who were seriously injured in both the 1993 Jack in the Box and the 1996 Odwalla juice outbreaks. The firm currently represents E coli victims from last year’s outbreaks in Eastern Washington and at the Atlanta Water Park, as well as other children who are victims of isolated outbreaks. The firm has also successfully brought suit against McDonalds and Costco for selling E. coli tainted hamburger.

Since 1993 Marler has resolved E. coli related cases for children totaling over $45 million. For additional information visit the Marler Clark web site at or call William Marler at 1-206-346-1888.

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