Child Contracts E-Coli From Allegedly Contaminated Lettuce


DNA ExpertThis case involves a child from Nevada who contracted e coli after eating lettuce that was served to her at a day camp. The child developed severe complications from the e coli infection, including hemolytic uremic syndrome and kidney failure. It was alleged that the lettuce in question was purchased at a grocery store. The e coli sample was sent to the state department of health for DNA testing. Counsel sought an expert in food-born contaminants to determine where the e coli sample originated from.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please describe your background as it relates to this matter.
  • 2. Have you ever reviewed a similar incident?

Expert Witness Response E-088513

I am a microbiologist with 23+ years in the federal government, including 17 years at the FDA and six at the NIH. During my time at the FDA-CFSAN, I worked closely with the office of the general counsel on multiple PulseNet issues and was prepped to testify in court if the need arose. It was the job of the FDA to use PulseNet to trace a contaminant back to the origin and figure out whether contamination occurred at the retailer, wholesaler, or producer. In some pathogens, like e coli, the DNA fingerprints are incredibly diverse. A match strongly increases the odds that pathogen has the same origin, thought it doesn’t necessarily guarantee it. I have previously been involved in an e coli outbreak that came from ground beef and presented on the topic. In that instance, the ground beef was recovered, which made it a much easier situation.

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