The two owners of a Cowlitz dairy farm have plead guilty to a charge of “distribution of adulterated food” as a result of a E-coli outbreak caused by milk from their dairy, reports The Seattle Times. Michael and Anita Puckett, owners of the Dee Creek Farm, will be fined $100,000and may serve up to one year in prison.
In December 2005, there was a major E-coli outbreak in Washington State traced back to milk the dairy distributed. Eighteen people became ill and three children were hospitalized with HUS, a severe kidney disease which often leads to lifelong health problems and permanent kidney damage.
When the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated the E-coli outbreak, they found that the dairy did not have sanitary conditions. The dairy did not provide hand washing facilities and they could not prove that they tested for the bacteria which is required of a licensed dairy. In addition, Dee Creek Dairy distributed unpasteurized milk which is against the law unless one has a license to do so. The Puckett’s did not have a license.
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS)is a life threatening condition that is a result of the Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacterium . The Center for Disease Control reports that there are approximately 73,000 cases of E-coli O157:H7 infection per year in the U.S. resulting in approximately 60 deaths. Undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized dairy products, cured meats and unpasteurized juices are often the culprits.
Many times an E-coli outbreak can be traced to the negligence of the food producer in the packaging or manufacturing process. In the case of this Cowlitz dairy, the Puckett’s did not follow many of the sanitation requirements to produce their product.
In preparing a lawsuit for a case like this, the personal injury attorney must prove negligence. Because HUS is often a life-long condition, damage awards can be significant because the victim should be compensated for current and future medical costs and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one has become ill because of food poisoning or a foodborne illness, contact The Farber Law Group. We have received significant financial awards for our clients in past cases involving a fast food operator in Washington State.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.