An 85-year-old Wisconsin woman who fell ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating Dole brand baby spinach in 2006 filed a lawsuit against Dole, Natural Selection Foods, Mission Organics, and Pic-n-Save on September 3. The lawsuit came nearly three years after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak had been traced to prepackaged baby spinach–an announcement that came on September 14, 2006.
The 2006 baby spinach E. coli outbreak sickened more than 205 people nationwide; at least 31 victims of the outbreak developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of E. coli infection that can result in kidney failure and sometimes leads to death. Official numbers show that 104 were hospitalized and four died as a result of their E. coli infections.
Investigators from the FDA and other public health agencies conducted a trace-back, determining that the spinach sold by Dole was grown by Mission Organics and processed by Natural Selection Foods. According to the lawsuit, Jane Majeska of Fond du Lac, Wis. purchased the baby spinach that led to her illness at a Pic-n-Save.
The lawsuit states that Majeska suffered HUS, which caused renal failure. She was hospitalized for months, experiencing a stroke, cognitive impairment, a collapsed lung, pulmonary embolism, and was given dialysis, blood transfusions, and plasmapheresis. Majeska lost her ability to eat or breathe on her own and survived on a feeding tube and ventilator.
Majeska’s attorney, William Marler, said of his client, “I am always a bit humbled when a victim of food poisoning stands up to the corporations who poisoned them with food – especially food labeled ‘triple washed’ and ‘ready to eat’.”