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Could we too suffer an E. coli outbreak?

Our Chicago food poisoning lawyers worry whether the U.S.A. is adequately protected to avoid an E. coli outbreak on the scale of the outbreak Germany and Europe is suffering now. The deadly outbreak of food-borne illnesses may seem a distant threat, but one recent editorial in the New York Times urges readers not to become too complacent.

As we all know, germs have a way of traveling and though our country’s food safety systems are much improved, they are still not built to detect and prevent the spread of rare, dangerous forms of infectious agents. The deadly E.coli outbreak has been all over the news, but in case you have not heard, it has caused 2900 cases of illness, including more than 750 cases of serious kidney failure and 27 wrongful deaths. First, officials were blaming imported produce from Spain, then they blamed the food poisoning on beat sprouts from an organic farm in Germany. They have yet to pin down the cause. As time passes, it becomes more difficult to do so; people forget what they ate, contaminated food is thrown away, and farm equipment is disinfected.

Could it happen here? In the mid-1990s, our country instituted a regulatory program to control E.coli in meat after hundreds of people were sickened and four kids died from eating contaminated burgers at Jack in the Box. Meat producers have to test their products and federal regulators are able to impose mandatory product recalls if any tainted meat escapes into the marketplace. Fresh produce has been less adequately regulated. Under a new food safety law enacted just a few months ago, the FDA was provided expanded powers to require food producers and processers to develop safety plans, conduct more frequent inspections domestically and abroad, and order recalls of tainted foods. The problem now is obtaining adequate financing for this effort when Congress and more local governments are set on cutting spending. As both Chicago personal injury lawyers AND citizens, we have to press our government to ensure that food safety is not pushed to the side when budgets are cut.

Read more about the possibility of such E.coli outbreaks here at New York Times.