Problems at Peanut Butter Manufacturing Plant Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

by Jim Orr

A recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning has reportedly caused at least 35 illnesses in 19 states, mostly involving children under the age of 10. Health officials investigating the outbreak have identified problems at a New Mexico plant that made peanut butter products linked to the outbreak. Recently, several recalls have been issued for different nut butters and spreads manufactured by Sunland, Inc. at their manufacturing plant in Portales, New Mexico.

On October 5, the FDA announced that salmonella has been found at the manufacturing facility and environmental samples taken from various surfaces would likely harbor bacteria.

An FDA spokesman said that they are still preparing a statement to explain why the plant was visited multiple times over the last few years and to address the current salmonella outbreak. Over the last few years, two health inspectors at Sunland’s facility have noted “objectionable conditions,” but they were considered not serious enough to sanction to plant.

An updated list of all recalled products by Sunland Inc. can be found in the company’s online recall announcement.

Food Poisoning and Your Rights

Salmonella food poisoning can be caused by negligence during the manufacturing or preparation of food products. Food poisoning due to salmonella bacteria can sometimes lead to severe and potentially fatal illness.

Sunland already faces at least one food poisoning lawsuit linked to the peanut butter recall, which was filed by the parents of an eight-year old boy who got sick on August 25, after eating Trader Joe’s peanut butter purchased at a Raleigh, North Carolina store.

Salmonellosis symptoms could include: abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and fever. In severe cases, salmonella bacteria can spread from the intestines through the bloodstream to other sites in the body. Young children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune systements are the most at risk for severe illness due to food poisoning.

Another type of food poisoning that can also result from negligence during the manufacturing or preparation of food products is E Coli food poisoning. Common potential sources of this type of infection include ground beef, raw fruits and vegetables and undercooked meat.

E. Coli (Escherichia Coli) is a bacteria found in the intestines of people and animals. Through most strains are harmless, E. Coli O157:H7 produces a harmful toxin that can cause serious and potentially fatal food poisoning for some people.

Food poisoning associated with E. Coli usually starts with symptoms like abdominal cramps, severe diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear within the first few days after a contaminated food is eaten.

We recently reported on a $2.5 million jury verdict in favor of woman whose suffered serious injury after swallowing bits of bone that were negligently left in chicken pieces on her pizza.

As that long and hotly-contested lawsuit helps to illustrate, it takes considerable resources to successfully pursue a claim against a major food producer or a large franchise restaurant. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more. In 2010 alone, we negotiated settlements of personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

If you have been seriously injured, or a friend or loved one was injured or killed and you feel a restaurant or food producer may be responsible, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.