Stop & Shop E. coli LitigationOn September 14, 2005, the Concord Hospital laboratory submitted an E. coli O157:H7 isolate to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) Public Health Laboratory (PHL) for confirmatory testing. The isolate had been cultured from a stool sample obtained from an eight-year-old boy. The next day, the Communicable Disease Control and Surveillance section at NHDHHS received a facsimile from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center notifying them that the same boy, a transfer to the medical center, was infected with E. coli O157:H7.
Health department investigators were unable to reach the boy’s mother, who was by her son’s side at the hospital, but reached his uncle. The boy’s uncle had purchased two packages of 75% lean ground beef for a Labor Day cookout. The meat had been purchased at the Stop & Shop Grocery Store located on Willow Street in Manchester. He had made 24 patties; all but six were consumed at the family barbeque held on September 4. These six were put in his freezer, where they remained, along with a bulk portion of the beef not used to make hamburgers. That same day, the Stop & Shop was inspected.
On September 23, testing was complete and the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in the leftover ground beef was confirmed. City of Manchester Department of Health officials persuaded Stop & Shop management to issue a Public Health Advisory, which was released at 9:00 pm on September 23. The advisory recommended that customers who purchased ground beef at the Stop & Shop on September 3 should not use the product and return it to the store for a full refund.
The NHDHHS Public Health Laboratory conducted pulsed field gel electrophoresis subtyping on isolates obtained from meat culture and culture of the ill boy’s stool specimen. All ground beef samples were a genetic match to that isolated from the boy’s stool.
Marler Clark represents the family of the six-year-old boy, who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after eating the contaminated ground beef, in litigation against Stop & Shop. The firm filed a lawsuit against Stop & Shop in July of 2006.