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Submitted July, 2013

 

 

Dear Barb,

 

‘Mommy, my stomach is hurting.’

 

It was May 30th, around midnight. Our 3-year-old daughter Heidi had very bad diarrhea. She was vomiting. It was late; we didn’t sleep; she was so sick. My husband saw blood in her stool, and then I started to panic.

 

We went to the hospital, where Heidi was admitted for the day. After being rehydrated with an intravenous fluid, Heidi felt better, and we were sent home. But then, she has started to be sick again and more sick. She couldn’t eat or drink. We went back to the hospital. They finally had the results of the earlier culture -- it was E-coli. Heidi had HUS.

 

We didn’t know what HUS was. We didn’t get much explanation from the doctors and nurses. It was late. I came back home to take care of our oldest daughter. I searched the Internet about HUS and was scared to death by what I learned. I didn’t sleep, so I hurried to go back to the hospital.

 

The HUS was doing so much damage to Heidi’s body. Unable to eliminate fluids, she was grumpy and puffy. I couldn’t recognize her. We knew this disease could affect her kidneys, her brain, and what else could happen? At 3, she is so fragile. Anything could happen. At her side, my husband and I didn’t eat or sleep for days.

 

Her kidneys got close to shutting down, so Heidi was put on the list to get dialysis. Every five hours, the nurses did a blood test that would determine the next steps. Her kidneys were still working, enough to postpone dialysis. But, her creatinine and urea levels were higher than any cases the hospital had seen. The doctors took risks, the right ones. Heidi was stable for a few days but needed blood transfusions -- she had 3. Fortunately, she started to get better. After 10 days, Heidi could leave the hospital.

 

It will be at least a year before we know what the consequences of this infection will be for Heidi.

 

A friend told me about Food, Inc. I was shocked. I had no words when I saw you, Barb. I can only understand a part of what you lived through. I can only imagine. I’ve been thinking about you and what happened to your son. It could also have happened to our girl too. NO ONE SHOULD DIE FROM OUR FOOD INDUSTRY. IT IS A CRIME.

 

Véronique, Canada

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Submitted May, 2013

 

Dear Mrs. Kowalcyk,

 

Several years ago one of my co-workers told me I should watch "Food, Inc." and went on to explain why I should do so. I only halfway listened assuming it was a gross slaughterhouse movie, which held no interest for me. Last Friday I saw the movie in the lineup on Netflix and had a few hours to kill while my grandbaby was napping so I watched it alone. Then I rewatched it with my daughter. Then I rewatched it with my husband.

 

On Saturday we went to our local farmer's market to purchase veggies, fruit and....meat!

 

I researched you online to find out more about Kevin's Law since the filming of the movie and came across your website. I cannot tell you how much the movie has changed my outlook on the foods I've been serving my family. We plant a garden every year, but my husband borrowed a tiller last night to expand this year. I even bought a bread machine. I've decided that we are not going to buy into the system anymore.

 

The farmer I purchased meat from at the market gave me his card and he is very local. His grass fed, antibiotic and steroid free meat will be a staple. I'm asking my friends to find 3 other families to go in with me so we can purchase a fourth of a cow. We may even buy some chickens to help with bug control in the garden and for the eggs. Not sure I'm ready to slaughter my own chickens though.

 

I briefly viewed your website and keep coming back to the same questions. How do I shop? What do I feed my family? Where do I purchase items not available at the farmer's market? I know that the question about how you shop was posed during the movie and I understand why you could not answer. Although the veggie liable laws are a whole other issue of ridiculousness. Is there a forum for new converts? I've searched the web and found mostly rants.

 

I'm an advocate of a different sort as I work with individuals with developmental disabilities. I have always adhered to strict guidelines regarding how I handle our meat, fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, we have never had any issues with food borne illness. I know about the recommended daily allowances, the four food groups, the new food triangle/plate etc. but I don't know where to buy rice, sugar, pasta, tea etc. Is there a book that you recommend about organic foods that won't "feed the corporate system"?

 

In closing please let me express my heartfelt condolences for the loss of your son. I know that you can "have a pity party all by yourself" and I'm not offering my pity. I'm, instead, offering my admiration. You have done something wonderful out of something so tragic and that is a great gift. You are providing advocacy and education to others, like myself, and that is indeed an awesome tribute to your son.

 

Sincerely,

 

Wendy, North Carolina

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Submitted April, 2013

 

My mother-in-law, Ruby Trautz, was a vivacious, active woman who began her nursing career in the Air Force. She tended to countless patients, but she loved spending time with her family. After her retirement, Ruby chose to live with my wife Polly and me, not because she needed our help, but because she wanted to spend more time with us and our children. Ruby loved life and the excitement of being part of a larger community!

 

In August 2006, Ruby developed diarrhea, and when she saw blood in her stools, she knew that she needed to go to the hospital. The ER staff and doctors tested her for everything, but not for foodborne illness. Four days after she was admitted, Ruby died, and we were left with a multitude of unanswered questions.

 

Meanwhile, I began to feel sick. Shortly after Ruby’s death, my wife Polly learned about the E.coli O157:H7 spinach outbreak and began to wonder about her mother’s illness. Since I was still sick, we got my blood and the leftover spinach (still in our refrigerator) tested at a laboratory. Those test results showed that I had experienced a recent E. coli infection and that our spinach matched the outbreak E. coli strain. Unbelievably, Ruby and I had been sickened by the “healthy salad” that we had eaten in our home!

 

As a retired Air Force pilot, I know the importance of safety and prevention. I would not take an airplane up without checking all the systems and equipment to see if they were in working order. But when it comes to our food, we don’t have those safeguards. Ruby should never have died, and I should not have been sickened, from something we ate.

 

Since Ruby’s death, I have spoken out – to Members of Congress, to federal agency officials, and to the media. I serve as the Treasurer on CFI’s Board and am proud to support this organization. CFI speaks out for me, for Ruby, and for you – telling industry, government officials and the media that our food safety system is crucial to our health and well-being and needs strong protections. No one should die or suffer long-lasting injuries from eating food.

 

Ken Costello

 

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Submitted August 21, 2012

 

To Whom It May Concern,

 

I'm hoping this email can reach Ms. Kowalcyk, but if it cannot, I completely understand. I recently watched the documentary Food, Inc. and was shocked to learn the realities of our food industry. Ms. Kowalcyk's story hit my heart the heaviest. I previously was not aware what E. coli really is and what it is doing to our nation.

Although I constantly hear about E. coli breakouts, I never understood how exactly the deadly strain of E. coli came to exist in our food supply. To say the least, her story and the entire documentary really changed my views on food and food safety. I wrote a blog about the matter, hoping to reach out to those that were previously unaware... just like me. The blog can be found at http://thesirenstale.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/you-are-what-you-eat/

I just wanted to reach out and give a whole-hearted thank you for her bravery in sharing her story, and educating me on what we are really consuming on a daily basis. On behalf of all the ignorant people, thank you!

 

Caitlin

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Submitted May, 2012

Dear Barb,

 

My name is Brian. I am 21 years old. When I was five, I became deathly I'll with ecoli. I spent over two weeks in the hospital, including Halloween day in my hospital bed. I am glad I found your website. I have spent some time lobbying for food safety on Capital Hill, and the law we lobbied for recently was passed! I am interested in future studies to see what long-term effects will be linked to e coli. I have had many health issues since that terrible day and there is no explanation besides ecoli. I hope to hear you thoughts soon, and (thanks for) listening to my story. If there is anything I could do to help feel free to ask any questions.

 

Thanks, Brian

 

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Submitted December, 2011

Dear Barb,

 

On Dec 23, 2011 I suffered food poisoning. The source was canned pears. I opened the can and removed approximately 1/4 of pears to eat with cottage cheese. I first noticed an off taste, and put that off to chorine residue as I had just finished H2O class. I became more alarmed when realizing the product was diced not sliced as stated on can. Upon emptying the remainder of the pears into a storage container I discovered a large mass with several growths on it. As this was a holiday weekend I was not able to make contact with the food manufacturer or with any government agencies. Illness first 24 hours: stomach pain, headache, nausea and now fatigue, numbness, tingling in face, loose stools 5-7 times daily. Vomited on day seven, 5 times in 30 minutes. Hair loss also occurred on day seven. Visited emergency room and my doctor, but no tests were run. Four months later, I’m still having headaches, numbness in face, fatigue, constipation etc.

 

I am looking for answers and any advice on this matter would be helpful.

 

Julie

THE CENTER FOR FOODBORNE ILLNESS RESEARCH & PREVENTION  |  cfi@foodborneillness.org