Peanut Butter Salmonella Deaths and Injuries Lead to Lawsuits

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January 21st, 2009 •

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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