In July 2002, 17 Colorado residents were infected with E. coli O157:H7. Several reports of infections also came in from neighboring states. There had been an initial recall by ConAgra Beef Company in June, of 354,200 pounds of ground beef. The strain of E. coli matched that of the recalled beef.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service expanded the ConAgra recall to 18.6 million pounds of ground beef, one of the largest meat recalls in US history.
In the weeks that followed, more than 45 people in 23 states reported illnesses linked to the contaminated ground beef.
It was found that USDA inspectors first knew of the E. coli contamination at the ConAgra plant in May, but had failed to issue a recall. Subsequent inspections throughout the next month also showed positive test results for E. coli, but a recall was not issued by ConAgra until June 30, 2002.
ConAgra admitted that it knew about the positive test results before the recall was issued, but had doubted the results of the tests. Reports indicate that ConAgra received 31 violations in the 13 months before its June and July 2002 ground beef recalls. At least 15 of those violations involved cattle feces, which carries the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
After the 18.6 million pound recall, federal officials began taking a closer look at the USDA’s E.coli testing processes as well as company practices. In November 2002, the ConAgra plant in Greeley, Colorado, (the plant responsible for the outbreak) was shut down by the USDA.
Other E. coli Lawsuits
Lawsuit updates about foodborne illnesses
Lawsuits updates by year
Affected by an outbreak or recall?
The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.Get a free consultation
What is E. coli and how does it cause food poisoning? Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a highly studied, common species of bacteria that belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae, so...
E. coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that causes food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 is the most commonly identified and the most notorious Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serotype in...
Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli can also cause food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 may be the most notorious serotype of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), but there are at least...
Where do E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) come from? The primary reservoirs, or ultimate sources, of E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC in nature are...
While many dairy cattle-associated foodborne disease outbreaks are linked to raw milk and other raw dairy products (e.g., cheeses, butter, ice cream), dairy cattle still represent a source of contamination...
Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?
The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.
View Outbreak Database