How this series was reported

Kansas City Star reporters traveled to seven states, collected and analyzed computerized government data, studied thousands of pages of documents obtained through a dozen state and federal open records requests and pored over thousands of pages of lawsuits, scientific studies, government audits and research reports.

They interviewed hundreds of cattlemen, beef company officials, industry and food safety advocates, lobbyists, federal regulators, attorneys, university researchers and victims of E. coli outbreaks.

Mike McGraw is a projects reporter for The Star and co-author of a 1991 series on the U.S. Department of Agriculture that won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Data collection and analysis was done by Sarah Cohen, a former database editor at the Washington Post and Knight professor at Duke University.

Additional data was analyzed by Star reporter Robert Cronkleton.

Keith Myers shot the photos and videographer Todd Feeback produced the videos.

Dave Eames created the graphics, and Charles Gooch designed the pages.

Don Munday copy edited the series.

Bill Dalton edited the series and supervised the project.

Harvest Public Media provided some information for this series. Harvest, a nonprofit based at KCUR Kansas City Public Media, has won numerous awards since its launch in 2010, and focuses on in-depth stories about agriculture and food production.

Some legal and corporate financial research was conducted by the UMKC School of Law’s Leon E. Bloch Law Library, its director Paul Callister, government documents librarian Cynthia Ernst, and UMKC law student Heather Beer.

Star librarian Eric Winkler also provided research assistance.