Costco Chicken Salad E. coli Outbreak and Lawsuit
The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, and public health officials in several states investigated an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7) infections.
A total of 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing STEC O157:H7 were reported from 7 states. The majority of illnesses were reported from states in the western United States. The number of ill people reported from each state was as follows: California (1), Colorado (4), Missouri (1), Montana (6), Utah (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).
Among people for whom information was available, illnesses started on dates ranging from October 6, 2015 to November 3, 2015. Ill people ranged in age from 5 years to 84, with a median age of 18. Fifty-seven percent of ill people were female. Five (29%) people reported being hospitalized, and two people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported.
The epidemiologic evidence available to investigators at that time suggested that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco stores was the likely source of the outbreak. The ongoing investigation had not initially identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad was linked to illness.
State and local public health officials interviewed ill people to obtain information about foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before their illness started. Fourteen (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco.
On November 20, 2015, Costco reported to public health officials that the company had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the United States and stopped further production of the product until further notice.
Taylor Farms Pacific announced that they were recalling celery and onion mix because they might include celery, which could potentially contain E. coli 0157:H7. The products were recalled due to a celery and onion diced blend testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 in a sample taken by the Montana Department of Health. The celery and onion diced blend tested by the state of Montana was used in a Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad that had been linked to a multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
Marler Clark represented 5 individuals affected by the outbreak, achieving settlements covering medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering.