A Massachusetts couple is suing Whole Foods Market in their young son's death.
Melissa and Andrew Kaye of Braintree say 8-year-old Joshua died after eating ground beef contaminated with a powerful strain of E. coli.
"Joshua was part of an E. coli cluster where multiple people were sickened, and epidemiological evidence traced the source to grass-fed ground beef back to Whole Foods. Federal agents were in Whole Foods as early as June 26 investigating the cluster, far before my son was identified as sick. It would not be until later that DNA samples would definitely link Josh to these cases," Andrew Kaye says in an email to NECN.
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Whole Foods Market issued the following statement:
"Whole Foods Market joins the community in expressing our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to Joshua Kaye's family for their tragic loss. We cannot comment specifically on the facts of this pending litigation, but our thorough and ongoing investigation of the circumstances has not shown any clear link to our business. The safety of our customers is a top priority at Whole Foods Market, and always will be."
The Kayes have also filed suit against Missouri-based Rain Crow Ranch, the company that allegedly produced and processed the meat.
The Kayes say they bought the beef that they blame for their son's July 7 death at a Whole Foods in South Weymouth.
"For weeks, we were advised that Whole Foods was going to be doing a recall based on this evidence. We have a letter from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that talks about Whole Foods grasping at straws, and dragging their feet, and emergency overnight meetings being convened. Their delay tactics led to the recall not happening for fifty days after the problem was identified and linked to their stores. We foolishly did not go to the media, or hire an attorney at that time because we trusted the system to work," Kaye tells NECN.
Whole Foods issued an Aug. 15 recall of ground beef products due to possible E. coli contamination.
"Two rounds of DNA testing, the second of which was demanded by Whole Foods, all definitively linked the patients together, and to Whole Foods Market," Kaye tells NECN.
Kaye tells NECN he and his wife were invited to Washington, D.C. to discuss the issue and their experience with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.