Update: Rain Crow Ranch, the Doniphan, MO, cattle operation which owns a nearby beef processing facility recently shut down by the federal government for humane handling violations, is being sued in connection with a 2014 E. coli death. According to an Aug. 17, 2015, Massachusetts newspaper report, a Braintree, MA, couple is suing Rain Crow Ranch and Whole Foods Market, claiming that E. coli-tainted hamburger from a South Weymouth, MA, Whole Foods store sickened and killed their 8-year-old son last year. Rain Crow Ranch and Whole Foods Market have denied allegations in the wrongful death suit from Andrew and Melissa Kaye, which was filed in Boston federal court in December 2014. Their son Joshua died of complications from an E. coli O157:H7 infection on July 7, 2014. Two other people were also sickened in that outbreak, which prompted a recall of 368 pounds of ground beef produced at two Whole Foods outlets, one in South Weymouth and one in Newton, MA. The Kayes are asking for a jury trial to assess damages. They are being represented by Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News. According to the Patriot Ledger newspaper of Quincy, MA, a scheduling conference in the case is scheduled for Sept. 21. The Aug. 15 story on the beef processing facility shutdown follows: Fruitland American Meat, the Jackson, MO, facility owned by Rain Crow Ranch to harvest its grass-fed cattle, has been ordered to suspend operations until it takes corrective actions demanded by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). An FSIS spokesman told a St. Louis newspaper that Fruitland was closed until it takes corrective actions to address humane handling violations. The suspension stems from a “knock box” incident that occurred at 8:15 a.m. on July 29, 2015, when a Fruitland manager took three shots, rather than one, to bring down an animal, which is viewed as an incident of needless suffering. FSIS ordered the suspension the same day. FSIS previously instituted a suspension of the facility in December 2014 for a similar incident. Dr. Patricia Whisnant, the veterinarian who owns and operates Rain Crow Ranch with her husband Mark and other family members, said a restructure and remodel will occur during the short-term shutdown. Rain Crow Ranch may move to an alternative slaughter facility until the changes can be made, she said. Fruitland America Meat last made news in June 2014 when it recalled two tons of fresh beef because the morsel root ganglia, which are branches of the nervous system in the vertebral column, were not removed. They are considered specified risk materials (SRMs) and must be cut out on cattle 30 months of age or older. SPMs contain the tissues most at risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease. On its website, Rain Crow Ranch states that the Fruitland facility processes 250 head of cattle a week. Whisnant acknowledges that the facility has had a “very contentious relationship” with FSIS. No illnesses were associated with either last year’s recall nor the current shutdown. After it was acquired by Rain Crow, the Jackson facility underwent an animal-friendly remodel which, according Rain Crow, was done by “Dr. Temple Grandin’s team.” Grandin is a well-known professor of animal science at Colorado State University. The ranch and the slaughter facility are located about two hours away from each other.
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