Eight-year-old died from E. coli O157:H7 infection

Massachusetts parents sue Whole Foods, beef supplier for allegedly causing son's death

By Heidi Parsons contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Kaye' lawsuit alleges that Rain Crow Ranch supplied Whole Foods with the E. coli-contaminated ground beef that caused their son's death.
The Kaye' lawsuit alleges that Rain Crow Ranch supplied Whole Foods with the E. coli-contaminated ground beef that caused their son's death.

Related tags: E. coli, Escherichia coli

A Massachusetts couple has filed suit against Whole Foods Market and a Missouri beef supplier, alleging its E. coli-contaminated beef caused the death of the couple’s eight-year-old son.

In the lawsuit they filed in US District Court in Boston, Melissa and Andrew Kaye of Braintree, Massachusetts, said the grass-fed beef they bought at the Whole Foods store in Weymouth was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Their son, Joshua, died in July.

“This lawsuit is about bringing awareness to the issue of food safety and forcing change where it needs to be made,”​ Melissa Kaye told the Boston Herald​.

The lawsuit states, “Witnessing their child suffer for 13 days caused Melissa and Andrew Kaye near incalculable pain, anguish, physical harm and suffering, creating searing memories that will haunt them both forever.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Effect, yes, but what of the cause?

On August 15 — after state and federal public health agencies found a link between a small number of E. coli illnesses and ground beef sold at two Massachusetts Whole Foods stores — the retailer recalled ground beef products it had sold in June.

Nevertheless, both Whole Foods and the beef supplier, Rain Crow Ranch, denied responsibility for the E. coli illnesses in statements provided to the press.

While the company cannot comment on pending litigation, a Whole Foods’ statement said, “our thorough and ongoing investigation of the circumstances has not shown any clear link to our business.”

In its statement, Rain Crow Ranch said, “It is our understanding that testing conclusively establishes that the meat we provided was not contaminated with E. coli.”

Furthermore, the Doniphan, Missouri, beef supplier proudly discusses its food safety practices on its website.

“We have a USDA team of two full-time inspectors and one veterinarian inspector which continually oversee our food safety and quality of performance,”​ the website reads, adding, “In our last assessment by Steritech we scored in the excellent category; only one in a thousand plants our size can claim this.”

Public awareness

As if there were not intrigue already inherent in the Kayes’ lawsuit, Melissa Kaye is a blogger, radio personality and “green-living expert.” She and a friend run MommyBusiness.net, a blog about environmentally conscious parenting, and she is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post​.

Kaye has discussed her son’s death in articles on those sites and others. 

In an article titled, “What Is Brave?” which originally appeared on 52Dares.com was later rerun by the Huffington Post​, she said, “Joshua died on July 7 after a 13-day battle with E. coli 0157:H7, which he contracted from eating contaminated grass-fed ground beef.”

“My husband and I are working to improve food safety and public health protocol. We are working to make changes at the national level, as well as holding production facilities and retail establishments accountable for the safety of the food they produce and provide.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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