E-coli are very scary little pathogens.
Just to put it in perspective for you, it takes MILLIONS of E-coli to make a person sick. With E-coli it takes about five organisms. Not five million. Five.
One, two, three, four, five.
That’s enough to kill you.
What’s even better is how easy it is to kill. Food cooked to a temperature of at least 160 degrees and held at about 145 cannot harbor E-coli bacteria. Those temperatures kill it. That means that if it gets into your food, the food isn’t being handled correctly – end of story.
9 People in Dupage county got injured in E-coli poisoning
This brings us to a case pending in DuPage County, Illinois. Elizabeth and Maurice Bernardi are each seeking $50,000 in damages after being exposed to E-coli bacteria in tacos from a restaurant called Los Burritos Mexicanos. There is no question that it happened there. The county health department finally shut the place down but not before a total of nine cases of E-coli poisoning surfaced. Six people were hospitalized. All of them, thankfully, survived.
Now, the detail that I find interesting here is not so much that avoiding an E-coli outbreak is so simple, but the fact that, at the end of the article I read about this it says, “The DuPage County Health Department receives about 10 reports of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli a year, according to department officials.”
This happens ALL THE TIME here? Nearly ten times a year within just one county in Illinois?
Something just isn’t right here.
What could have been the reasons for the E-coli outbreak in Dupage County?
As a Dallas personal injury lawyer, I would have advised the plaintiffs to ask for more. A LOT more. I would also want to investigate the county health department’s practices and see how consistently they adhere to their own standards. Years ago, when E-coli were more elusive and difficult to predict in terms of how a breakout starts, there might be a little latitude afforded to the health department and their personnel.
But this isn’t years ago. We know where it shows up most frequently (hamburger meat tops the list) and we know what we need to do to kill it. The restaurant failed to do what was necessary to guarantee food safety. The county health department apparently wasn’t forcing them follow proper food-handling practices and didn’t step in until nine people were injured.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
- If you were one of the victims, what kind of award would you be seeking?
- Is $50,000 enough of a penalty for nearly taking someone’s life out of sheer carelessness?
- What responsibility, if any, does the county health department have in this E-coli case?