Listeria Death in California Leads to Cheese Recall

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Roos Foods has recalled 16 varieties of cheese after some of its brands were linked to food poisoning cases including one death in California. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the cheeses said to be contaminated with listeria bacteria were produced by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware, and are linked to a listeria outbreak. The recalled products include the company’s Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima, Suyapa, La Chapina and La Purisima Crema Nica brands.

Officials say there was one death linked to the listeria outbreak in California and seven illnesses in Maryland. Five of the illnesses, including two mother-newborn pairs and a newborn, were related to pregnancy. Also seven of the eight patients were hospitalized and all illnesses were reported between Aug. 1 and Nov. 27. The products were distributed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A full list of brand names and varieties can be found on the Food and Drug Administration’s website. More

Salmonella Warning Causes Protien Bar Recall

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issuing a consumer alert warning against eating certain ProtiDiet High Protein Chocolate Dream bars, which may possibly be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the manufacturer, Pro-Amino International Inc., has recalled the protein bars, which are sold in packages of seven.

These products have been recalled in several states including California, as well as online. Consumers are urged not to eat these potentially contaminated bars and either throw them away or return to the seller. So far, the FDA says no illnesses have been reported as a result of these products.

Salmonella Statistics and Symptoms

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, public health departments nationwide documented 1,527 food poisoning outbreaks resulting in 23 deaths, 1,184 hospitalizations and 29,444 illnesses. Salmonella accounted for 30 percent of these outbreaks and 49 percent of food-borne illness related hospitalizations.

Salmonella is one of the most common food-borne illnesses. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, painful abdominal cramping and fever. Symptoms may develop 12 to 72 hours after the infection and the illness usually lasts four to seven days. Most people recover without treatment, but in some cases the diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that hospitalization may become necessary. Infants, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems are at highest risk.

Consumers’ Rights

Anyone who has been sickened by a contaminated or defective product has legal rights. Product manufacturers, including food producers, have a duty and responsibility to provide clean and safe products for consumers.

Victims of food poisoning can seek compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, hospitalization, diagnostic tests, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced California personal injury attorney who has successfully handled food poisoning cases will be able to advise victims regarding their legal rights and options. If you have been sickened by a contaminated food product, please isolate the product so it can be tested in a laboratory and report your illness to the local healthcare agency.

FDA Focuses on “Message Fatigue” About Food-Borne Illnesses

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February 18, 2013—Washington, D. C.—According to an article in MedPage Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is forming a panel to discuss the problem of “message fatigue” among the populace about food safety.

Message fatigue occurs when the public is bombarded with messages about food safety and begins to ignore the warnings. Because communication is so widespread and instant, the average American may hear several stories a week about a new outbreak of disease related to contaminated food. At first, people are frightened by these messages as indicated by purchasing patterns at grocery stores and restaurants. Eventually, however, when people hear numerous messages about food-borne illness but see no evidence of these diseases affecting them, they stop listening to the warnings. food safety

The FDA’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee is set to address the communication challenges that exist when people receive too much information about various dangers related to food. A 2009 survey conducted by two of the committee’s participants showed that Americans are “highly aware” of recent salmonella outbreaks with 93 percent being aware of the 2009 peanut butter recall and 81 percent aware of the ground beef recall. However, purchases of ground beef and peanut butter have once again leveled, possibly indicating that people have stopped worrying about the safety of these particular foods.

Another problem worrying the committee is how to encourage people to follow through with recall warnings. When a food is recalled, many people fail to look on their shelves or in their freezers to see if they have any of the contaminated food. Some of this may be due to distrust of research and researchers in general, but most of it probably has to do with message fatigue. People simply stop listening to the warnings, having heard so many of them in a short period of time.

Media attention tends to focus on national issues in which there are fatalities or severe outbreaks of illness. Many people do not realize that there are continual local outbreaks affecting everything from cantaloupe to jalapeno peppers to tuna fish simply because the media does not focus on these outbreaks unless there is some “newsworthy” national interest.

One of the focuses of the group is to explore the possibility of using social media to get the message out about local outbreaks of salmonella and other food-borne diseases. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are now able to reach a huge number of people in a short time. By utilizing these methods, the FDA hopes to reach people with a targeted message rather than the “national scares” that seem to happen every other week, numbing potential victims to the dangers of food-borne illness outbreaks.

Victims of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella have rights under the law to collect damages if they have been sold tainted food by a store or restaurant. A personal injury attorney can help these victims recover damages for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other costs.

Rudi’s Bakery Recall of Organic Breads

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October 29, 2012—Los Angeles, California—The Federal Food and Drug Administration has issued a voluntary product withdrawal from Rudi’s Organic Bakery of certain bread products that the company states may contain metal contaminants.

According to the recall announcement, “metallic foreign objects” may be in the sealed products or packaging of Rudi’s Organic Bakery Multigrain Oat Bread, Rudi’s Organic Bakery Colorado Cracked Wheat Bread, and Rudi’s Organic Bakery Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  The company has asked that consumers who have these products cease using them immediately and return them to the store for a full refund.  The company has also asked that stores return any supplies they may have on their shelves.  The assumption is that the “metallic” objects could pose a choking or poisoning hazard if ingested.

Why Does The FDA Sponsor Voluntary Recalls?

Voluntary recalls are not ordered by government agencies.  Instead, they are voluntarily issued by manufacturers who become aware of a problem with a product.  The FDA and other government agencies provide recall awareness as a service to these companies who are attempting to spread the word about a defective product because it is easier for the agencies to get the word to a large number of potential victims.

The FDA and other government agencies also issue non-voluntary recalls when companies refuse to cooperate.  However, this is a major step and the government does not use this tactic unless there is a very serious problem with a product or a very good reason to warn the public about danger from using a particular item.

What Are The Liability Issues for Defective Products?

Companies are liable for defective products they sell to the public.  If those products cause death, illness, or injury, the companies may have to pay damages to the victims who are affected.

For this reason, companies are quick to recall products if there is a hint that the product may cause harm to consumers.  However, this does not relieve the company from the responsibility of paying for damages that may already have been caused by the defective product lawsuit.  Recalls are not a way of avoiding liability; they are an attempt to limit a company’s exposure to liability that has already occurred.

Product defect attorneys  can help a victim who has suffered from some type of product defect, whether it is contaminated food, defective drugs with dangerous side effects, or a power tool that has caused injury.

Kellogg Issues Massive Recall of Mini-Wheats Due to Contamination

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Kellogg has issued a defective product recall for its Frosted and Unfrosted Mini-Wheats cereal because the products may be contaminated by metal mesh fragments. According to a CBS News report, the recall involves nearly 2.8 million boxes of the cereal including Frosted Mini-Wheats Bite Size Original and Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size products. The “use by” dates for these products range from April 1, 2013 to Sept. 21, 2013. Kellogg had posted the recall information on their web site on October 8, 2012.

However, consumers were not made aware of the potential problem until three days later, on October 11, 2012. Kellogg officials say the public is not at a high risk as a result of the contamination. So far, no injuries or illnesses have been reported due to these recalled products. Anyone with questions or concerns is asked to contact 1-800-962-1413.


GMO Food Fight Heats Up Over “Organic” Designations

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October 10, 2012—California–The Business Journal reports that the argument between growers and distributors is growing over genetically transformed foods as the California legislature considers a bill that would inform consumers if their food has been scientifically altered.

Genetically engineered food is nothing new. Plants have been infused with desirable genes since the technology became widely available in the mid-1990s.  However, with the current focus on “organic” or “natural” foods, organic growers argue that consumers have a right to know if their food is being modified.  Proposition 37 would require processors to label their products to indicate genetic alteration and would prohibit the use of the word “natural” on such products.

Pros and Cons of Proposition 37

The measure is widely supported by organic farmers, who are prohibited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture from using synthetic seeds or pesticides.  The battle has long been raging between organic farmers and their non-organic neighbors, whose use of pesticides may affect seeds and pollen that can then contaminate nearby organic crops.   Supporters of the bill cite fears about genetically-altered food such as risk of cancer and birth defects.

However, opponents say there is no proof of such a risk. In fact, they applaud GE crops for bringing costs down and making wholesome food available to the population at a reasonable cost.  They believe that if the proposition is passed, organic foods may become the problem because of germs and insects that are not killed by regular pesticides and could infect those who ingest these foods.

The Food and Drug Administration

The FDA routinely regulates or deregulates crops that can be grown in the United States.  For example, the FDA recently deregulated a genetically-altered strain of alfalfa and approved it for growth in California.  However, the FDA has been reluctant to get involved in the organic argument inherent in Proposition 37, possibly in light of opposition by major companies such as Monsanto and DuPont, who provide much of the research that goes into genetically-altered seeds and plants.

Impact on Lawsuits in California

One of the strongest arguments made against Proposition 37 is that it would open the door to innumerable lawsuits regarding labeling on food.  Theoretically, any company that did not have the proper labeling could be sued for product defects if the food caused allergies or other health problems.

However, proponents of the bill argue that people have the right to know what they are eating and make informed choices about their food consumption.  They argue that the bill would actually reduce grounds for lawsuits since people who bought food without “organic” or “natural” packaging would know that the food might contain genetically-altered material.

Personal injury attorneys should keep a close watch on the progress of Proposition 37 and its possible repercussions for product defect lawsuits.


Trader Joe’s Supplier Recalls Peanut Butter for Salmonella Contamination

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Sunland Inc., which makes the Trader Joe’s brand peanut butter, has recalled 76 different defective products due to the possibility of salmonella contamination. According to an NBC News report, the company has recalled three brands of Trader Joe’s peanut butter and almond butter. The products have been linked to 29 infections in 18 states including California caused by the rare salmonella Bredeney. Sunland is also recalling peanut and almond products sold under popular brands including Archer’s, Earth Balance, Fresh & Easy, Heinen’s, Natural Value, Naturally More, Sprout’s and Serious Food. The products have best-by dates between May 1, 2013 and September 24, 2013.

The food poisoning cases linked to these products were reported between June 11 and September 2, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So far four people have been hospitalized. The company is recalling the products although officials say they have not detected positive results for the rare salmonella strain in the products. Symptoms of a salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping. The illness may last four to seven days. Some people who become more seriously ill may require hospitalization.


FDA Halts Imports of Mexican Mangoes due to Salmonella Contamination

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is putting a hold on mango imports from a Mexican packinghouse after the company’s mangoes have been related to food-borne illnesses in 15 states including California. According to an Associated Press news report, the FDA announced the safety alert against Agricola Daniella, a mango supplier with multiple plantations and one packinghouse in Sinaloa, Mexico. This alert basically means that the U.S. government will not accept any further imports from the company unless it can show testing that proves that the mangoes are no longer contaminated.

The company’s mangoes have been linked to salmonella illnesses in 15 states. So far, 121 people have been sickened. No deaths have been reported. A California importer recalled the Daniella brand mangoes last month after they were linked to dozens of illnesses nationwide, a majority of them in California. Various retailers sold those mangoes from July 12 to August 29.


Fresno-Based Company Recalls Cantaloupe for Salmonella Contamination

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DFI Marketing of Fresno is recalling cantaloupe due to food poisoning concerns. According to a news report in The Newport Beach Patch, salmonella was found on a single sample of cantaloupe during routine testing conducted at a wholesale produce distribution center, which is part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) testing program. So far, no illnesses have been reported. The recalled products include about 28,000 cartons of bulk-packed product. The fruit was packed on August 26, 2012 and distributed primarily to retail customers in 21 states including California. Some of the fruit was also exported to Mexico. Anyone who has these defective products at home would be well advised to not consume them.


Ricotta Cheese Recalled for Listeria Contamination

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Forever Cheese has issued a product defect recall for its Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. According to a news report in, the cheese was initially sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in 19 states including California, between June 20 and August 9, 2012. The products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants and wholesale distributors. So far, there have been 14 reported illnesses in 11 states that may be linked to these products. The company is trying to contact all distributors and retailers in an attempt to pull the products off the shelves. Consumers who have purchased this brand of cheese are asked to refrain from eating the product and contact their distributor or retailer for a full refund.


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