Thursday, January 22, 2009

More on Recent Lawsuits of Interest

Frozen Chicken Recall: Small Pieces of Plastic in Stuffed Chicken Meals
Posted: 21 Jan 2009 02:55 PM CST

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a frozen chicken recall for over 6,000 pounds of Barber Foods and Market Day meals with stuffing. Small pieces of plastic were found in some of the products, which could pose a potential risk of injury if the meals are consumed.

Barber Foods Company, based in Portland, ME, issued the recall after at least one consumer found small pieces of plastic in a frozen, stuffed chicken carving roast with cranberry and sage stuffing.

The recall applies to products produced on November 13, 2008, which were distributed by Market Day in the Midwest and Eastern United States and by Barber Foods to institutional food service locations.

The two products subject to this frozen chicken recall include:

Market Day Stuffed Chicken Breast Roast with Rib Meat, with Cranberry and Sage Stuffing: Product code 1037, CAT. C can be found on all sides of its box as well as establishment number P-276 inside the USDA mark of inspection. Date code 31881 is printed at the top of the ingredient statement.

Barber Foods DISTINCTIONS Barber Carver with Cranberry and Sage Stuffing: This product can be identified by establishment number P-276 in the USDA mark as well as product code 031484 on the case label. On the top of the case is date code 31881 or 31882.

According to the recall notice posted by the U.S.D.A., the potential manufacturing problems which may have allowed small pieces of plastic to be packaged with the foods appears to be limited to these products.

Last year, Nestle Prepared Foods issued a similar recall as a result of plastic which was found in Lean Cuisine, Lean Pocket and Hot Pocket frozen meals. While their initial recall issued on July 14, 2008, after the first consumer complaints, only included about 200,000 pounds of Lean Pocket Spinach Artichoke Chicken Sandwiches, subsequent recalls were issued on August 21, 2008, for 200,000 pounds of Hot Pockets Pepperoni Pizza Sandwiches and on November 17, 2008, for over 875,000 pounds of Lean Cuisine Chicken Meals.

Peanut Butter Salmonella Deaths and Injuries Lead to Lawsuits
Posted: 21 Jan 2009 11:20 AM CST

At least six salmonella deaths and hundreds of cases of food poisoning throughout the United States have been linked to contaminated peanut butter, and the first lawsuits are starting to be filed.

As of Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that at least 485 people in 43 states and Canada have reported suffering food poisoning caused by the Salmonella typhimurium strain of bacteria which was found in large containers of peanut butter and peanut paste used to make peanut butter crackers, cookies, ice cream and other foods.

The peanut butter salmonella contamination has been linked to a peanut processing plant in Georgia, which is operated by Peanut Corporation of America.

One of the peanut butter salmonella deaths that has been linked to the peanut butter involves Shirley Mae Almer, who died December 21, 2008 at a nursing home in Minnesota. Her family was notified earlier this month that she had salmonella in her blood and state health officials have confirmed that peanut butter served at the nursing home where she lived was contaminated by the same strain bacteria involved in the nationwide salmonella outbreak.

According to the Perham Enterprise Bulletin, Almer’s family is making preparations to file a peanut butter food poisoning lawsuit against the manufacturer. She was in a weakened state when she was given the peanut butter, as a result of a urinary tract infection and pre-existing cancer, which made her more susceptible to the infection.

Salmonella food poisoning can result in symptoms within 12 to 72 hours after consuming contaminated food, typically involving diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever.

While most healthy adults tend to recover within a few weeks, elderly, young children and those with weakened immune systems can be more susceptible to severe cases of food poisoning, which can be fatal if the infection enters the bloodstream.

At least one other food poisoning lawsuit has been filed by a Vermont family on behalf of their 7 year old son who became sick after eating Keebler Cheese & Peanut Butter Crackers which were recalled by Kellogg Co. earlier this week after it was discovered that peanut paste used during manufacturing was received from Peanut Corporation of America.

According to the Boston Globe, the child developed symptoms of salmonella food poisoning on November 25, one day after eating the peanut butter crackers. He was hospitalized for six days and stool samples confirmed the salmonella diagnosis.

In the coming months, potentially hundreds or even thousands of peanut butter salmonella lawsuits could be filed. While the number of reported Salmonella typhimurium food poisoning is only about 500, it is generally accepted that only about 1% to 10% of all adverse events are ever reported to health officials.

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