In late June of 2008, public health officials in Michigan and Ohio began investigating several cases of E. coli O157:H7. An epidemiological investigation by officials at the Michigan and Ohio departments of agriculture determined that the source of the E. coli outbreak was ground beef purchased at Kroger stores.
Kroger stores recalled an undetermined amount of ground beef, which was ultimately linked to 42 illnesses of E. coli O157:H7 -- 21 in Michigan and 20 in Ohio. In its recall announcement, Kroger identified stores that had sold the contaminated meat, including Fred Meyer, QFC, Kroger, Fry’s, Ralph’s, Smith’s, Baker’s, King Soopers, City Market, Hilander, Owen’s, Pay Less, Scott’s, Dillons, and Gerbes.
Nebraska Beef also issued a massive recall of ground beef, which was eventually expanded to include a total of 5.3 million pounds of meat intended for use in ground beef production
On July 18, 2008 the CDC announced that 49 confirmed E. coli O157:H7 cases had been linked both epidemiologically and by molecular fingerprinting to the consumption of ground beef products produced with Nebraska Beef meat. States with confirmed cases included Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Utah. Twenty-seven people were hospitalized, and one patient was known to have developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths were reported.
Later that year, in August of 2008, Nebraska Beef recalled an additional 1.2 million pounds of meat for potential E. coli contamination after a cluster of Boston illnesses was traced to Whole Foods, whose processor, Coleman Natural Meats, purchased the meat from Nebraska Beef. As many as 30 E. coli cases were reported in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Canada in association with the August recall. On August 14, Nebraska Beef expanded its recall to include 160,000 pounds of meat, bringing the total meat recalled in August to 1.36 million more pounds.
Marler Clark filed the first E. coli lawsuit stemming from the outbreak on June 30, and later filed lawsuits on behalf of Ohio and Georgia victims. The law firm represented over a dozen individuals in claims against Nebraska Beef, Kroger, and other entities who sold the E. coli-contaminated meat. All claims were resolved.