Call Today   |   888.828.7087

Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

All foods have the potential to make you ill from the bacteria Escherichia coli. Some food sources increase your risk of E. coli, such as the four listed below.

1. Ground Beef

One of the most common foods that can become contaminated with E. coli is ground beef. E. coli from inside of the cow’s intestines can contaminate the meat meant for consumption.

It is also worth noting that ground beef does not only contain meat from cows. Many different animals are used in ground beef production, which increases the risk of E. coli contamination.

Recent Outbreaks

One of the most recent E. coli outbreaks related to ground beef occurred in 2019 across ten states. More than 209 people became ill, and 29 were hospitalized.

Ground Beef Food Safety Tips

  • When preparing ground beef at home, always defrost in the refrigerator.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When eating in a restaurant, avoid ground beef that is still pink or red in the middle.

2. Fresh Produce

Eating fresh produce offers many health benefits, but not when you unknowingly ingest E. coli. Produce grown in areas near cattle or other meat production facilities can be contaminated with waste runoff.

Even certain types of vegetables are more likely to become contaminated with E. coli. These veggies include romaine and spinach because they can be more challenging to wash correctly and clean.

Recent Outbreaks

E. coli in fresh produce resulted in two recent outbreaks. In 2019, contaminated romaine lettuce caused 167 illnesses and 85 hospitalizations across 27 states. In 2020, a leafy greens outbreak caused 40 illnesses and 20 hospitalizations in 19 states.

Fresh Produce Food Safety Tips

  • Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables even if you do not plan to eat the peel. You could contaminate the interior when slicing.
  • Keep pre-cut fruits and veggies cold.
  • Cooked produce is the safest way to eat them.

3. Unpasteurized Milk

Although unpasteurized milk is not consumed as often as fresh produce or ground beef, it remains a severe threat to those who continue to drink it. According to the CDC, people who drink unpasteurized milk are 840 times more likely to develop a foodborne illness such as E. coli.

According to the FDA, pasteurization is a process that kills harmful bacteria by heating milk to a specific temperature, followed by rapid cooling. Unpasteurized milk does not have any unique health benefits. The CDC does not recommend drinking or consuming dairy products that contain unpasteurized milk.

4. Water

Some water sources may produce E. coli, including groundwater contaminated by human or animal waste. Private wells and municipal water supplies can become infected with E. coli. Fortunately, there have not been any significant outbreaks related to E. coli contaminated water since 2006.

How Serious Is E. Coli?

E. coli is ordinarily harmless to most humans and animals and might cause only mild and brief symptoms, if any. However, multiple strains of E. coli can be severe and painful, resulting in kidney failure or death.

How Can You Get An E. Coli Infection?

The most common way to get an E. coli infection is by eating or drinking contaminated food. Symptoms typically appear within three to four days. They include diarrhea, severe stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and tenderness or pain in your abdomen.

When Does An E. Coli Infection Become An Outbreak?

When one or more people are sickened by an E. coli infection, it is called an outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have already been two outbreaks of E. coli in 2021.

One outbreak was related to an unknown food source that caused twenty-two illnesses and eleven hospitalizations. The other was linked to a contaminated cake mix that made seventeen people sick across twelve states.

Risk Factors For E. Coli Infections

Most people recover from an E. coli infection without the need for medical attention. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you see your doctor for persistent, severe, or bloody diarrhea.

Some people are more likely to have severe side effects from an E. coli infection after eating contaminated food, including:

  • Older adults and younger children
  • People of all ages with weakened immune systems
  • People who take medication to reduce stomach acid

Should You Contact An Attorney?

Restaurants and food processing facilities have a duty of care to follow all safety precautions to reduce the risk of an E. coli outbreak. Victims may be entitled to financial compensation when they breach this duty of care and could consider suing due to getting E. Coli.

Potential Damages To Recover From?

An attorney with a deep understanding of foodborne illness cases may be able to recover damages such as:

  • Emergency medical care
  • Prescriptions
  • Lost pay
  • Pain and suffering

Holding a negligent food supplier accountable also sheds light on unsafe or unlawful business practices. Your action could help prevent another victim of contaminated food or water.

Get Help From A Personal Injury Lawyer

Even though several strains of E. coli can be harmless, multiple strains of this bacteria can cause severe illness and even death. If you have suffered some of the more severe symptoms and effects of E. coli, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Get help holding the liable parties to account when you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation when you call our office at (888) 828-7087. Or complete our contact form, and we will reach out to you to discuss the specific details of your case.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

Multistate Cyclospora outbreaks


A couple contracted Salmonella from a restaurant


A pedestrian was struck by a left-turning car, fracturing her tibia


A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash