Fred Pritzker Calls on American Foods Group to Explain Potentially-Contaminated Meat

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Attorney comments on ground beef recalls due to possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7.

Fred Pritzker, one of America's leading food safety lawyers, calls on American Foods Group, LLC and the USDA to explain why this company is producing so much adulterated meat; why the outbreaks continue to occur; and what steps will be taken to immediately end this problem.

American Foods Group, LLC, a Green Bay, Wisconsin firm, is voluntarily recalling almost 48 tons of ground beef products that may be contaminated with potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7, according to a November 24, 2007 announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The ground beef products were produced on October 10, 2007 and were distributed to retail stores and distributors in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Virginia. According to the FSIS, the problem was discovered through an investigation into two illnesses initiated by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

American Foods Group, LLC is the name of a company resulting from a merger between American Foods Group and another meat processor, Rosen's Diversified. The company claims it is among the top three privately held meat processors in the United States and employs approximately 4,000 people.

This is not the first E. coli O157:H7 recall involving American Foods Group, one of the merged companies. In December 2000 Green Bay Dressed Beef Inc. also doing business as American Foods Group recalled over 500 tons of ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Over 20 people were sickened as a result of that outbreak including a number of individuals with severe and permanent injuries. Pritzker | Ruohonen represented a number of victims from that outbreak.

Fewer than ten months later, on August 27, 2001, the same company recalled 265 tons of fresh ground beef products contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

Fred Pritzker, founding partner of Pritzker | Ruohonen, and one of America's leading food safety lawyers, said, "this company (American Foods Group) is responsible for recalling over 800 tons, 1,600,000 pounds, of ground beef adulterated with E. coli O157:H7." Despite its claim that its "Food Safety Mission" "is to ensure that all products manufactured are safe and wholesome" and that "Our commitment to Food Safety drives our success. We realize our responsibility to produce a safe & wholesome product for our customers," the company continues to produce and sell ground beef products that have been recalled for one of the deadliest foodborne pathogens, E. coli O157:H7.

Pritzker calls on the company and the USDA to explain why this company is producing so much adulterated meat; why the outbreaks continue to occur; and what steps will be taken to immediately end this problem. In the meantime, Pritzker says something must be done to help any victims of this most recent outbreak: "At the very least, the company should publicly take responsibility for this recall and immediately pay the medical bills, wage loss and related costs for any E. coli O157:H7 victim linked to this outbreak. The company should also retain the services of a totally independent group of food safety experts, with input from consumer groups (and not just meat industry representatives) to examine its practices and prevent these recurring outbreaks. The USDA should also significantly increase its monitoring of this company and do everything in its power to prevent further outbreaks."

Fred Pritzker, of Pritzker | Ruohonen & Associates, P.A., practices in Minnesota and represents survivors of foodborne illness throughout the United States. He may be reached toll-free at 1-888-377-8900, by email at fhp@pritzkerlaw.com, or through the firm's web site at http://www.pritzkerlaw.com.

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