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Shigella Lawsuit Filed against Salsarita’s Restaurant in Wal-Mart

Wife of active duty U.S. Navy diver is one of 275 people who became ill with Shigellosis 

Attorneys Bill Marler and Drew Falkenstein of Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, have filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas on behalf of married couple Delida Groom and James Groom. Mrs. Groom was visiting the area when she was sickened with Shigellosis after consuming food from Salsarita’s Restaurant located in the Wal-Mart Home Office Café in Bentonville, Arkansas. Case number is V 14-1029-1 in the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, Civil Division.

In late June 2014, the Arkansas State Health Department announced that an outbreak of Shigella had occurred at the Wal-Mart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas. At or about the time of the announcement, Salsarita’s restaurant had temporarily closed its doors. The health department has stated that 275 cases of Shigellosis have occurred in nine states as part of this outbreak. After investigation, health officials indicated that Salsarita’s restaurant was the source of the outbreak. The outbreak stemmed from a few simple and preventable violations; some of which included employees not washing their hands and employees touching ready-to-eat food without wearing gloves.

In June 2014, Mrs. Groom traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit her parents. While in Arkansas, on Friday, June 13, 2014, she attended a luncheon that included multiple foods from the Wal-Mart Home Office Café, including chips, salsa, and other items produced at the Salsarita’s restaurant located in the Café. The following evening, June 14, 2014, Mrs. Groom began to feel slightly fevered, light-headed, and nauseated. Over the next several days, her symptoms spiraled and included bloody diarrhea and severe gastrointestinal issues. She was later given treatment for metabolic disturbances given her immense gastrointestinal losses and hospitalized in the ICU for several days receiving critical care. Mrs. Groom developed long-term complications and continues to suffer from the effects of the Shigellosis illness.

“After thousands of cases, I am still amazed at how these outbreaks start,” said Marler. “Washing your hands and putting on gloves is not rocket science and it only takes a minute or two.”

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. Persons with Shigellosis in the United States rarely require hospitalization. A severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Shigella outbreaks. The Shigella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Shigella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Shigella lawyers have litigated Shigella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as tomatoes, airplane and restaurant food.

Ready to Eat Products Recalled

Great American Marketing, a Houston, Texas establishment, is recalling approximately 475 pounds of FSIS and FDA-regulated, ready-to-eat products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The sandwich and wrap products were produced on July 15, 2014, and then shipped to retail locations in Texas. Case labels or packaging may bear the sell by date of 07/26/14.

Products regulated by FSIS bear the establishment number “EST 31680” or “P-31680” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The following FSIS-regulated products are subject to recall:

7.4 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Chicken Caesar Wraps.

8.1 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Club Wraps.

FDA-regulated products being recalled (are listed at http://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls) and include:

10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Ham and Cheddar Premium sandwiches.

10.5 ounce plastic-covered tray packages containing Turkey & Swiss Premium sandwiches.

The problem was discovered when FSIS collected a sample of a separate product on July 15, 2014, that was confirmed positive for L. monocytogenes on July 23. The sampled product was held. However, the plant produced the additional FSIS and FDA regulated products listed in this recall without conducting a complete clean-up of the production equipment. Those products have entered commerce and are subject to recall. FSIS and the company have received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

Updated List of Stores Nationwide Recalling Listeria Tainted Fruit

Recalled fruit consists of conventional and organic yellow and white nectarines, yellow and white peaches, black plums and pluots

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has posted a list of all fruits recalled to date from the Wawona Packing Co., including packing numbers, searchable lot codes and Block ID numbers. The agency has also posted photos of the clamshells, boxes and bags the recalled fruit was shipped in or packaged in for retail sale at a variety of stores under the Wawona brand, Harvest Sweet or Sweet 2 Eat labels.  The FDA photo pages, along with company photo pages, also show product weights and corresponding UPC numbers for the recalled fruit.

Food Safety News reports that the following stores received the product and have reported recalls:

Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Krogers, Aldi and Wegmans

I also find press reports of fruit recalls from:

Food 4 Less

Foods Co.

Giant Food Stores

Martins

Hannafords

BJ’s Wholesale

Dillons

Save-a-Lot

Fry’s

King Soopers

Stop & Shop

Big Y Foods

Ralphs

Whole Foods

Also, exported fruit to Canada and Australia has been impacted.

Minnesota Investigates Potential E. coli Outbreak at Applebees

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating 13 cases of foodborne illness associated with a type of E. colibacteria known as E. coli O111. This form of E. coli is in the same family as the more well-known E. coli O157:H7. All of the illnesses were caused by the same genetic strain of E. coli O111, and the ill people do not all share any obvious commonalities; these facts indicate the illnesses resulted from a widely distributed food item.

While seven of the people with E. coli O111 infections reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, there are multiple cases with no apparent connection to the restaurant. Applebee’s is cooperating fully with the investigation, and as a precaution volunteered to remove the Oriental Chicken salad from menus at all its Minnesota restaurants while the investigation continues. The restaurant is also removing specific ingredients of its Oriental Chicken salad from other items on its menu out of an abundance of caution. Health officials are still working with Applebee’s, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and other regulatory partners to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Symptoms of illness caused by E. coli O111 typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People usually become ill two to five days after exposure, but this time period can range from one to at least eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days. Complications from infection are more common among those with weaker immune systems, including young children and the elderly. MDH investigators note that this genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States previously.

Health officials say anyone who visited a Minnesota Applebee’s since June 20 and has symptoms of E. coli O111 infection (particularly bloody diarrhea) should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak. MDH also asks that they contact the department’s foodborne illness hotline at 1-877-FOOD-ILL (1-877-366-3455) to report the potential connection.

Four of the 13 people who became ill were hospitalized, and all have recovered or are recovering. Diarrhea associated withE. coli O111 infection should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote further complications. More information on E. coli infection can be found at www.health.state.mn.us. MDH will share more information with the public as the investigation continues.

80 Sickened by Salmonella Chia in US and Canada

In Canada as of June 27, 2014, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 59 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (33) and Quebec (3). Nine cases have been hospitalized; seven cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering.

In the United Sates as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (13 persons), Salmonella Hartford (6 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 12 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).  Two ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.  Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that organic sprouted chia powder is the likely source of this outbreak.

California Lawsuit Filed in Chia Salmonella Outbreak

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Two California Residents Sickened By Salmonella Tainted Chia Seed Powder from Navitas Naturals

Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California on behalf of Edward Arbini and Sandra Moore, two California residents hospitalized with a Salmonella Newport infection linked to the nationwide recall of sprouted chia seed powder and sprouted chia/flax seed powder from Navitas Naturals©, the Superfood Company™. Co-counsel on the case is respected California attorneys Frederic Gordon and Richard Waite.

According to the CDC, as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 people have fallen ill with salmonella infections that can be traced back to the consumption of chia seed powder. These individuals are from12 states, including California. This outbreak has triggered a nationwide product recall in the US and Canada, where another 52 people have become sickened with strains of salmonella.

Edward Arbini and Sandra Moore are two of those sickened with Salmonella Newport by the chia seed powder. They are both residents of Mountain Valley, Orange County, California. In 2008, Edward was diagnosed with throat cancer due to exposure to Agent Orange during his three tours of duty in Vietnam. After multiple surgeries, he had to relearn to talk and perform all tasks. Given only a 20 percent chance to live, Edward survived. As part of a healthy lifestyle, Edward began “juicing” with the help from his caregiver Sandra. She started using the defendants’ chia powder and chia seeds in the juices, which were administered to Edward through a G tube.

Edward became ill on or about March 5, 2014 after consuming the chia seed powder purchased at a local Whole Foods. The chia seed powder was manufactured and sold from Navitas Naturals and is subject to the recent recall. Soon after consuming the chia seed powder, Edward began suffering from severe abdominal cramping. He then had severe diarrhea, which worsened daily until he required hospitalization. He spent two miserable days at the hospital after which he was transported several times to different locations.

During all this time, Sandra became severely ill. Her symptoms were the same as Edward – extreme exhaustion, diarrhea, and cramps – but less severe. Because she could not care for Edward in her condition, Edward was forced to stay in a hotel and care for himself while she got better. The main symptoms of Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Both Sandra and Edward have not yet fully recovered.

“Many people think that healthy foods are not susceptible to Salmonella outbreaks, but that is just not true,” said Bill Marler, who has been working to help improve food safety standards since representing victims of the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak in the early 1990s. “Healthy foods are just as prone to Salmonella and E. coli as milk and eggs.”

Salmonella is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Many animals carry Salmonella yet do not get sick. It can also be found in unpasteurized egg and milk products. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another. Symptoms (which develop 6 to 72 hours after infection) may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided.

The best ways to prevent the spread of this illness are to avoid preparing food for others while ill, thoroughly cooking meat and egg products, not consuming unpasteurized eggs and milk products, and washing hands, especially after using the bathroom and before handling or preparing food.

About Marler Clark

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

 

Another Salmonella Lawsuit to be Filed in California on Monday

The CDC has reported that as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (13 persons), Salmonella Hartford (6 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 12 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Two ill persons infected with a strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been identified in two U.S. states. Through product testing and interviews with ill people, these illnesses have been combined with the Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford infections previously identified as part of this investigation.

On June 4, 2014, Health Matters America, Inc., recalled products that contain sprouted chia seed powder and sprouted chia/flax seed powder due to possible Salmonella contamination. On June 6, 2014, Navitas Naturals expanded their existing recall to include additional expiration dates of products containing organic sprouted chia powder.

In Canada, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 52 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (26) and Quebec (3). Six cases have been hospitalized; five cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of one case was not provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 37 of 39 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of sprouted chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.

As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued food recall warnings for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturally Organic, Pete’s Gluten Free, Noorish Superfoods, MadeGood, and Dietary Express. These products have been recalled and are being removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

E. coli Outbreak Over at 12

A total of 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 4 states. The number of ill persons reported from each state was as follows: Massachusetts (1), Michigan (5), Missouri (1), and Ohio (5).  58% of ill persons were hospitalized. No ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company was the likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.

On May 19, 2014, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.  The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B.”  The recalled ground beef was shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant use nationwide. There was no distribution of the products to the U.S. Department of Defense, the National School Lunch Program, or catalog/internet sales.  The recalled ground beef was also distributed to a limited number of retail establishments for consumer purchase.  Read the full list of products that were recalled.

El Patron Link in 14 Salmonella Cases

Alabama State health investigators said today they have confirmed 14 Salmonella cases in customers who ate at a Russellville, Alabama restaurant.  All 14 confirmed cases were people who ate food from El Patron restaurant on June 4 and 5.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever, cramping and vomiting. None of the people were hospitalized as a result of the Salmonella.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said salmonella could come from raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or other meats, unwashed produce, or unsafe food handling practices. It can be prevented by hand washing, keeping uncooked food away from cooked food, and using clean plates and utensils.

El Patron, which is located on Highway 43 in Russellville, is still closed.

Chia Seeds and Powder Tainted with Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford

Thirty-four sick in Canada – Seventeen sick in United States

The Public Health Agency of Canada has reported that two strains of Salmonella have been associated with an outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford. In total, 34 cases have been reported in British Columbia (6), Alberta (4), Ontario (22) and Quebec (2). Five cases have been hospitalized; four cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of one case was not provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 19 of 19 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of sprouted chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder, and 16 of 19 cases specifically report sprouted chia seed powder.

As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturallyorganic, and Pete’s Gluten Free. These products have been recalled and are being removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The CDC reports as of June 2, 2014, a total of 17 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (12 persons) or Salmonella Hartford (5 persons) have been reported from 10 states. Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that organic sprouted chia powder is the likely source of this outbreak.

On May 28, 2014, Navitas Naturals recalled products that contain organic sprouted chia powder due to possible Salmonella contamination.  The recalled products include Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder, Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, and Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer with specific “best by” dates.  On May 30, 2014, Advantage Health Matters and Back 2 the Garden recalled products that contain sprouted chia seed powder due to possible Salmonella contamination.  The recalled products include Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia Seed Powder, Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia and Flax Seed Powder, and Back 2 the Garden Sprouted Chia Seed Powder.