ConAgra Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits - Nationwide (2002)
On June 30, 2002, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced the recall of 354,200 pounds of ground beef manufactured at the ConAgra Beef Company plant in Greeley, Colorado. The contaminated ground beef had been produced at the plant on May 31, thirty days prior to the recall, and was distributed nationally to retailers and institutions.
On July 12, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) disclosed that 17 Colorado residents had been infected with E. coli O157:H7. Several other cases were subsequently reported in neighboring states. Three days later, on July 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had infected the 17 sickened individuals was genetically indistinguishable from the strain isolated from the recalled ConAgra beef.
On July 19, 2002, FSIS expanded the ConAgra ground beef recall to 18.6 million pounds of ground beef. In the weeks that followed the nationwide recall, more than 45 people in 23 states reported illnesses linked to the contaminated ground beef.
Reports indicated that ConAgra received 31 violations in the 13 months before its June and July 2002 ground beef recalls, and a September 13, 2002 letter issued by the following congressional members: Representatives Mary Kaptur, Rosa DeLauro, Henry Waxman and Senator Richard Durbin demanded to know why the USDA and ConAgra had failed to alert the public to possible contamination until more than two months after they knew there was contamination at the plant. Moreover, they intimated that ConAgra hindered the USDA investigation by refusing to turn over information about its Greeley slaughterhouses.
On November 15, 2002, the USDA shut down the ConAgra plant in Greeley (known as Swift and Co.), due to repeated failures to prevent fecal contamination of carcasses. The plant has since reopened.
Marler Clark represented 23 victims of the ConAgra E. coli outbreak, which led to at least 46 illnesses and one death. Among the victims were an Ohio childcare worker, a Colorado security officer who was battling forest fires, and young children in Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Several of them were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a frightening complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection that can lead to kidney failure and neurological impairment. Their claims were resolved in 2004.
Additional Case News
- 2002 meat recall exposed perilous gaps in safety net
- What She Ate Almost Killed Her
- ConAgra settles with 6 more on E. coli
- ConAgra settles 8 suits by E. coli beef victims
- Letter: ConAgra knew of E. coli
- Use of DNA Fingerprinting Helps Track Tainted Meat
- Federal regulators close Greeley plant
- Victims seek up to $50 mln in ConAgra meat case
- Illnesses from beef could cost ConAgra $50 million, lawyer says
- ConAgra set for mediation over illnesses from E. coli
- USDA reviews regulations for meat safety
- ConAgra E.coli cases up to 25
- 3 more confirmed E. coli cases in Colorado
- E. coli cases lead to recall of 19 million pounds of beef
- E. coli victims recovering after eating tainted meat
- Tainted meat came from Greeley plant
- Timing of meat recall assailed
- E. coli ills extend to other states
- 6 more cases investigated as E. coli
- Fear halts meat buys