Minnesota health officials believe that “lean finely textured beef” made by Beef Products, Inc. was contaminated with E. coli and caused at least five people to become ill in 2009 with one of those individuals dying. Now, Beef Products, Inc. is pursuing a lawsuit against two former USDA microbiologists and ABC News because the two raised concerns about the product and there were also a number of other accusations made.
The man who died, Robert Danell, 62, had Down Syndrome and died of kidney failure not long after he had consumed the beef.
His family feels that he because deathly ill from eating what is frequently referred to as “pink slime.” This is the beef scraps that are to be treated with ammonia to kill pathogens. Now the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Beef Products, Inc.
The lawsuit was filed on January 8 in which BPI is blamed in addition to seven other companies for selling the “pink slime” that resulted in the death of Danell. Danell was one of 25 people in a 17 state case to become sick from the 2008 E. coli outbreak. This outbreak would be traced back to a slaughterhouse in Colorado, JBS Swift & Company. JBS has also been included in the lawsuit as defendants.
At first, nine of the individuals who became sick said that they had eaten steak at Applebees. This is how the CDC was able to trace where the bacteria came from. They found that the beef had been purchased from JBS before it was sent to the Applebees restaurant chain. This resulted in the recall of almost 250,000 pounds of beef in December 2009. However, Minnesota health officials were receiving reports of illnesses that were not linked to the same beef.
Danell had eaten a hamburger on December 28 at Opportunity Manor. He had also consumed Swedish meatballs a couple of days later. Both of these meals contained beef from Tyson that contained the “pink slime” from BPI. It was on January 4 that Danell would start experiencing stomach pains and bloody diarrhea. He would continue to get progressively worse. He would pass away on June 19, 2010.
It was found that Tyson had mixed the BPI beef into its own ground beef because it was cheaper and then sold the meat to multiple companies for use in lasagna, hamburger patties, and Swedish Meatballs. These are three foods that Danell had eaten in the days before coming sick. Unfortunately, these items were not included in the beef recall. Not being subject to a recall had a lot to do with the fact that hamburger can contain trim from a number of sources, making tracing back where the individual parts that make up the meat very difficult. Nonetheless, molecular tests did trace the tainted beef back to JBS.
BPI feels that the Danell lawsuit lacks merit and that the company will aggressively defend itself. The family says it is not about the money, as they want to show how this well-loved individual died at the alleged hands of the chain of production.