U.S. family tells how
tainted peanuts sickened child
Source of Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUSN1138215520090211
Wed Feb 11, 2009 1:25pm EST
Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Three-year-old Jacob
Hurley nodded eagerly when he heard the name of his favorite food -- Austin
toasty crackers with peanut butter -- his enthusiasm unaffected even after an
11-day bout with salmonella.
Jacob's father, Terence Hurley, was one of three
family members testifying to Congress about the effects of an ongoing
outbreak of salmonella food poisoning that has sickened 600 people, may have
killed eight, and caused one of the biggest food recalls in U.S. history.
"Can you imagine the effect on a parent if you
knew you'd been poisoning your 3-year-old child?" Oregon Republican
Representative Greg Walden asked the hearing of the House of Representatives
oversight subcommittee hearing.
The police officer from Wilsonville,
Oregon, and his wife learned the diarrhea
and vomiting sickening their young son last month was salmonella, and they
knew that products linked to Peanut Corporation of America had been recalled.
But they also thought that only institutional peanut
butter was involved, and were furious to learn that Peanut Corp. had
knowingly shipped products tainted with salmonella to schools, nursing homes
and food processors.
More than 1,800 products have been recalled so far,
with dozens more announced daily.
"As Jacob's diarrhea continued, my wife was
given the OK from our pediatrician's office for Jacob to eat his favorite
comfort food, Austin
toasty crackers with peanut butter -- the very food that we later found was
the cause of his poisoning," Hurley said.
A Saturday night visit from Oregon state epidemiologist Dr. William
Keene resulted in tests that definitively linked Jacob's diarrhea to the
crackers, but only after days of misery for the child.
"The issue was no longer what had we done unknowingly,
but what had PCA done knowingly," Hurley said.
Members of Congress showed internal company e-mails
from Peanut Corp, that indicate the company shipped products from its
now-closed Blakely, Georgia, plant to schools, nursing homes and food processors,
even after getting lab tests showing salmonella contamination.
Hurley and other family members asked Congress to
better fund the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so it could better inspect
the food supply.
Kellogg Co (K.N),
which makes the Austin
snacks, said the recall would cost it up to $70 million.
Lawyers for the company declined to testify before
the hearing but PCA has said it is cooperating with health and criminal investigations
by the FDA and FBI.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Will Dunham
and Alan Elsner)