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E. coli Makes Primetime on CSI Miami

CSI Miami-Bad Seed
Air Date-10/19/2009
Full Episode-43.26

With a deadly but unnamed strain of E. coli starring in the world’s most popular TV show, we had to watch.

CSI Miami, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is in its eighth season.  Unless you’ve been living off planet Earth during that time, you probably know that it’s the more popular spin-off of the original CSI, set in Las Vegas.

Its hard to resist, especially when it comes on your HD screen flashing pictures of South Florida with all those bright reds, oranges, and yellows coming at you.  It is totally mesmerizing.  You can avoid being sucked in by all those pretty pictures by just hitting the fast forward button.

Once you get to where characters are actually speaking lines, there is another problem with CSI.  You have to think about all the history behind every spoken line.

In this Bad Seed episode, for example, you have to remember that Dr. Alex Woods (Khandi Alexander) left the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office because she wanted to “spend more time with the living.”   And Eric Delko (Adam Rodriquez) is still recovering from getting shot in the head, but has re-joined the forensics team.

Delko and Dr. Woods just happen to be together when a boyfriend brings in the first victim.  While she is dying of “acute renal failure” from a new deadly, but unnamed strain of E. coli the boyfriend is telling Delko he planned to propose marriage to her.

Horatio Caine (David Caruso), who spends some time in each episode brooding and looking off into space, opts to treat the death as a murder.  As head of the forensic team, Caine does not play well with outsiders, including the health department.

The way the E. coli victim is depicted falls a little short of being accurate.  She dines out with her boyfriend and instantly becomes sick without much, if any, incubation period. She does experience both vomiting and diarrhea, symptoms consistent with E. coli infection. 

E coli can attack the kidneys and deaths due to renal failure do happen, but probably few occur at this TV-like speed.  This was more like E. coli as a speeding bullet, without the painful lingering death that is the more common experience.

That said, the next part of “Bad Seed” was pretty well done.  The CSI guys with guns find the woman’s last meal was a fresh green salad at a local restaurant.  They trace it back to the farm, the delivery truck, and eventually focus on the water, finding surface runoff from a feedlot to the fields growing the greens.

The water is carrying cattle feces into the well being used to irrigate the lettuce crop.  That’s pretty good reality television.

Had they just stopped there, they would have been fine.   But, they did not.

Next, it is the boyfriend who becomes critically ill and is quickly brain dead.  Dr. Woods discovers the young man does not have E. coli like his girlfriend, but Clostridium botulinum.

He is going to die of Botulism.  His last meal was not fresh salad and E. coli like his girlfriend, but a vegetable burger and corn with fatal Botulism.

This sends the CSI guys with guns back into the field, literally.  Before they pull the plug on the brain-dead boyfriend, they learn the same corporate farm that owns the feedlot genetically modified some corn seed to make it more digestible.

The plot twists include an evil corporate attorney, a corporate farmer lacking a conscience, and a re-surfacing of the “food defamation”” laws we thought Oprah killed in 1998.  They even threw in a revolving door between the corporate farm and the health department.

CSI Miami is not a documentary.  It is fiction, and we understand that.   Writers and producers of this show know what they are doing.  But, this episode was an example of why we do not care and why we stopped DVRing it several seasons ago.

Some writer out there is eventually going to take an accurate foodborne illness story to the TV or Big Screen.   But this was not it.

Oh, at the end there was a little romantic titillation between Delko and the blonde Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter).  You might want to remember that for some future episode.

© Food Safety News
  • Emma Patricks

    Mr. Flynn,
    I’m going to be blunt and get right to the point.
    This is very uncharacteristic of me, because usually I’m peasant and kind, and make an honest effort to see points from the blog writers point of view, but this just got under my skin…
    Does that make this post OK? Probably not, but I have to speak up anyway because I am so tired of this. I may regret this…
    Why would you write a review of a TV show you stopped watching a long time ago and have no idea what’s going on?
    Who am I to ask that? Well let me give you two blatant reasons why I asked, if you don’t mind. I’m sure you do, but I’m going to anyway.
    1st reason, quote: “Horatio….who spends some time in each episode brooding and looking off into space…”
    Caine does not ‘brood’ nor does he ‘spend….time…looking off into space….”
    What do you want Lt. Caine to do? Jump up and down, grin from ear to ear and clap his hands and act all giddy when a MURDER happens? Get real.
    Taking ones job seriously, whether it be the Caine character in his job at the crime lab, or Mr. Caruso in his job at acting, is not exactly ‘brooding.’
    2nd reason: Eric and Calligh have been an item for quite some time now, it started round about the middle of Season 7 or so.
    Your hint to remember the ‘romantic titillation’ scene for future reference didn’t let any cats out of any bags, sorry to burst your bubble. Further, it proves you have no idea what’s happened in the show since ‘[you] stopped DVRing it a couple of seasons ago.’
    If I sound harsh, it’s because I’m tired of reading reviews from people who never watch the show, and when they do happen to catch an episode because it involves a topic they’re interested in, decide to write a review and slam it.
    What are you trying to prove?
    What you ended up proving, I’d lay bets on, wasn’t what you intended to.

  • Merritt

    I enjoy watching CSI Miami, but I did not enjoy this episode. The portrayal of everyone; the restaurant owner, the farmer, the trucker, the CDC, and the industry official not caring that someone died pushed credibility beyond the breaking point.