Peanut Salmonella Litigation Status

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May 5, 2009. By Ron Simon

Washington, DC: Increasingly, more individuals across the United States have reported that they contracted Salmonella Typhimurium from peanut butter and peanut products, namely from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), Kellogg Company, and Kanan Enterprises, Inc.

Overview of the Peanut Butter Outbreak

Officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and numerous state agencies have linked the source of distinct strains of Salmonella Typhimurium that has poisoned hundreds of people across the United States to peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) at its peanut processing plants in Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas. The peanut butter was sold under the King Nut brand label (owned by Kanan Enterprises, Inc.) to nursing homes, cafeterias, schools, and colleges where those most susceptible to salmonella poisoning--children and the elderly--were likely to have consumed the contaminated product.

Unfortunately, PCA's contaminated peanut butter and peanut paste were also distributed to numerous companies for use as ingredients in many products including cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, and other foods. These companies have now recalled over 2800 products which contained PCA peanut butter and paste.

Austin and Keebler Crackers Cause Most Illnesses

Although over 2800 peanut-based products have been recalled, over 90 percent of the known illnesses arose from the consumption of Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers, both of which are manufactured by Kellogg Company, and used contaminated peanut paste manufactured by PCA.

PCA has $24 Million available to Pay Victims

As a result of the flood of claims against it, PCA declared bankruptcy and shut down both its Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas plants. At a recent bankruptcy hearing in Lynchburg, Virginia, an examination revealed that PCA has $24 million in liability insurance available from The Hartford Insurance Company set aside to resolve salmonella food poisoning claims.

PCA's Texas Plant Fined for Unsanitary Conditions

On April 9, the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) assessed $14.6 million in administrative penalties against PCA's Texas peanut plant for violations of state food safety regulations. The violations included unsanitary conditions, product contamination, illnesses linked to consumption of peanuts from the plant and operating for almost four years without a food manufacturer’s license from the state.

The Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 714 people and kills 9

The CDC continues to work with state health officials and the FDA to monitor the outbreak. Over 714 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 46 states and Canada. Illnesses began on September 1, 2008. Patients range in age from 1 year to 98 years old. Among persons with available information, 24 percent reported being hospitalized. Nine deaths have been reported.



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