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Thursday, May 13, 2010

E. coli - The Story I Have Been Following.

Stephanie Smith, 23, of Cold Spring became ill in 2007 after eating a patty produced by Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., a Wichita, Kans.-based unit of Minnetonka-based Cargill Inc. Her E. coli infection led to kidney failure. She went into seizures and was kept in a medically induced coma for three months.

Smith's battle to recover was the centerpiece story last year in a New York Times series that won a Pulitzer Prize ( The story spurred several members of Congress to demand better enforcement of food safety laws and a pledge from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for stepped up efforts to fight E. coli contamination. The story traced how the beef trimmings that went into her hamburger came from four plants in the U.S. and Uruguay, and that while such scraps are particularly vulnerable to contamination, many companies including Cargill did not normally test them prior to grinding.

 Those low-grade ingredients are cut from areas of the cow that are more likely to have had contact with feces, which carries E. coli, industry research shows.

When they filed the lawsuit in federal court in Minnesota in December, Marler said Smith's medical bills totaled more than $2 million and would likely reach the tens of millions of dollars. He also predicted then that she would need multiple kidney transplants. Marler declined Wednesday to say if he still stands by those estimates on her medical bills, but he said multiple transplants remain a risk.

I suggest you read the article at the NYT (  Among the suggestions, have your ground meat ground by your butcher.

Also see my earlier post about other toxins in our meat (

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