Frederico’s Mexican Food restaurant in Arizona re-opened its doors after being the source of an E. coli epidemic that caused 74 customers to have bloody diarrhea in August. Now, to combat the bad press, the restaurant is offering free food in celebration of Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16 in hopes of regaining the customers it lost in the health scare.
The restaurant is being sued by food safety law firm Marler Clark on behalf of the outbreak victims. According to the NY Daily News, one 5-year-old underwent six blood transfusions after eating the contaminated food, while one teenager suffered from pancreatitis, brain swelling, and a possible stroke.
"There's no question their restaurant is the source of this problem," attorney Bill Marler said. "Mostly likely it came from cross-contamination in their own kitchen."
Escherichia coli, better known as E. coli, is bacteria that normally live in the intestines of healthy people and animals. When inside one’s body, the bacteria are harmless. However, when E. coli bacteria come in contact with food and water, people can get potentially life-threatening infections. E.coli O157:H7 is apparently the most problematic strain. It’s the strain that was found to have contaminated the food at Frederico’s. The typical symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
Attorneys for the victims of Frederico’s diarrhea outbreak say that their free food promotion is in bad taste, considering that the outbreak occurred just last month and victims are still dealing with the consequences of the near-fatal contamination. The two children who suffered the most severe injuries were both diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that results from the destruction of blood cells and can cause kidney failure.
"I have a hard time beating people up for doing [public relations]," Marler said, "but this is a bit disingenuous to say the least."