Last week, Marler Clark LLP filed a lawsuit related to the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to bison meat produced by Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, Inc.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Claudette Murtha, a Colorado Springs, Colorado resident who purchased Rocky Mountain Natural Meats’ Great Range Brand Ground Bison meat in early June at a King Soopers location.  She consumed the meat in mid-June and became ill with a severe gastrointestinal illness approximately two days later.

On July 2, and in a later expansion, Rocky Mountain Natural Meats recalled a total of 66,776 pounds of bison meat due to potential E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The product was sold at popular stores including Albertson’s, Giant Foods, Kroger’s, Market Basket, Price Chopper’s, Stop & Shop Supermarkets, Super Value, Whole Foods, and King Soopers.

At least six people from two states–New York and Colorado–have been identified by genetic testing on their E. coli O157:H7-positive stool samples as having been infected with the outbreak strain of bacteria.

R. Drew Falkenstein, Murtha’s attorney at Marler Clark, told Food Safety News, “Claudette is one of many more than just six people to have been sickened in this outbreak.  Fortunately, she’s had a good recovery so far, and it looks like she may escape this illness with no related permanent health problems.” 

“Nevertheless, this outbreak raises significant issues from a public health standpoint,” Falkenstein continued.  “It involves an area of the retail meat production business that largely escapes regulatory scrutiny, and that should not be the case.  Bison are ruminants just like cows, and they can harbor E. coli just like cows too.  Hopefully this outbreak is a wakeup call to the regulatory system that there needs to be oversight of less-than-mainstream meat products like bison.”

Murtha is seeking compensation for medical costs and lost wages from Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, Inc.