E. Coli O111 Outbreak Takes Four Lives in Japan

Central Japan is where 56 people (some reports claim as many as 70) have become ill and 4 people have died recently due to an outbreak of E. Coli O111.  Two of the fatalities were children.  According to reports in the media, one pre-school age boy was hospitalized after becoming ill on April 21st.  He died six days later.  The second boy fell ill on April 24th and died on April 29th.

A chain restaurant by the name of Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu that is run by Foods Forus Co. seems to be the source of the food poisoning.  Both boys who died were infected with an identical strain of E. Coli O111, and both had eaten at the chain restaurant.  Since the outbreak, all 20 restaurants have been closed.

The common thread in this tragedy seems to be yukhoe, a Korean dish that contains raw beef and is said to be similar to tartare.

In addition to the two boys, two women died after eating the same dish at Yakiniku-zakaya Ebisu.  Nineteen of the remaining 56 cases of food poisoning were said to be serious with victims having “critical symptoms” according to reports.

The health ministry in Japan requires that raw meat be tested for bacteria.  The president of Foods Forus Co., Yasuhiro Kanzaka, acknowledged that the company had not tested raw meat for bacteria over the past two years.  Kanzaka is quoted in reports as stating that the company assumed that the meat they used would always be bacteria-free because they had never had a positive result in previous bacteria tests.

The type of E. Coli involved in this outbreak is a type that is not routinely tested for in the United States.  It is evidently very deadly, so perhaps leaders in the food safety industry should take a closer look.  The USDA may be moving at a faster pace following this nightmare, which should actually bring about changes in our own country.  It would be tragic for the U.S. to do nothing until such a disaster strikes in our own country.

Food poisoning is typically not serious in normal, healthy adults.  However, certain people are at an increased risks of serious complications and even death.  These individuals include the elderly, young children and those with a weakened immune system such as those who are recipients of organ transplants or who are undergoing chemotherapy.

Certain strains of E. Coli O111 are capable of causing HUS or hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is life threatening and often leads to kidney failure, particularly in young children.

Those who have become ill after consuming foods contaminated with various strains of bacteria may have rights to compensation for their E. Coli Treatment.  Contact the New York food poisoning attorneys at Brown Chiari for a free evaluation of your case.

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