Header graphic for print
Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

Subscribe to the Foodborne Illness Outbreaks Section RSS Feed

Walmart’s Salsarita’s Sickened 275 with Shigella – Lawsuit to Follow

Lawsuit Filed Today.

Salsarita’s Restaurant in the Walmart Home Office Café in Bentonville has reopened following a Shigella outbreak that made 275 sick in nine states according to the Benton County Health Department.  According to the Arkansas State Health Department dozens of employees were also ill with Shigellosis.

The Benton County Health Department conducted an inspection on June 18, shorty after people started getting sick.  Inspectors found nine violations on that inspection.  Of those nine violations, five were marked priority, meaning they were concerns that needed to be fixed fast.  Some violations included, employees not washing their hands or touching cooked food without wearing gloves.  The report said raw chicken had been dripping on bottled drinks.

On a follow-up inspection on June 23, inspectors found seven violations, some of them the same as the previous inspection.

After the outbreak, Eurest, the third-party company in charge of managing the kitchen, hired a quality assurance manager and will retrain staff on the company’s safety protocols.

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.

Delida and James Groom live in Connecticut.  Mr. Groom is active duty with the U.S. Navy.  They have a 1-year-old daughter.  In June 2014, Mrs. Groom and her daughter traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit Mrs. Groom’s parents.  While in Arkansas, on Friday, June 13, 2014, Mrs. Groom attended a luncheon that included multiple foods from the Walmart 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.  The symptoms continued throughout the night.  On June 15, 2014, Mrs. Groom developed severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and a high fever.  On June 16, 2014, Mrs. Groom’s fever continued to rise, and the other symptoms continued unabated. This prompted her to go the Mercy Urgent Care in Rogers, Arkansas.  Once she arrived, Mrs. Groom learned that she could not be seen for approximately five hours.  As a result, she left the urgent care facility.

Mrs. Groom and her daughter were scheduled to return home on June 17, 2014.  Unaware of the increasingly dire nature of her health crisis, Mrs. Groom elected to make the trip despite her symptoms.  Her mother agreed to make the long drive back to Connecticut with Mrs. Groom and her daughter.  During the first day of the trip home, Mrs. Groom’s symptoms caused them to have to stop frequently at rest areas, gas stations, and other facilities with restrooms.  Early in the day she noticed that her bouts of diarrhea had turned bloody.

The evening of June 17, 2014, Mrs. Groom’s episodes of diarrhea contained almost pure blood and no stool.  At this point, she and her daughter and mother were in the state of Indiana and were frightened and did not know what to do.  Mr. Groom was on active duty with the Navy and had learned of his wife’s dire circumstances and was frightened for the well-being of his wife and daughter.

Ultimately, Mrs. Groom decided to call her primary physician in Connecticut and received instruction to go to the nearest emergency hospital.  Thus, early the next morning, June 18, 2014, Mrs. Groom was seen at Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenefield, Indiana.

In the emergency department at Hancock Regional, Mrs. Groom was diagnosed with hypokalemia, which is a potassium deficiency caused by her immense gastrointestinal losses, as well as a dangerously low blood pressure.  Her fever also had continued to rise.  It was increasingly clear that the Shigella bacteria Mrs. Groom consumed on the contaminated food items manufactured and sold by the defendants had found its way into her bloodstream, causing her to develop sepsis.  Mrs. Groom was experiencing septic shock.

Mrs. Groom was admitted to the intensive care unit and quarantined, due to her likely infectious state.  Upon admission, it was also found that Mrs. Groom’s rectum had prolapsed, again due to the repeated, violent bouts of diarrhea that she had suffered for multiple days.  She was in severe pain and was medicated with morphine.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Groom’s mother kept Mr. Groom apprised of his wife’s declining health.  Mrs. Groom’s mother obtained a hotel room close to the hospital, where she stayed with Mrs. Groom’s 1-year-old daughter, who had also begun to suffer from gastrointestinal illness.

Mrs. Groom remained in the intensive care unit through the afternoon of June 21, 2014.  During her stay, she submitted a stool sample that tested positive for Shigella.  She ultimately was discharged against the advice of her doctors, who felt that she was not well enough to continue the long journey home.  Nevertheless, Mrs. Groom needed to get home to her family, and her young daughter needed to be home as well.  Thus, Mrs. Groom and her mother and daughter continued the drive home, arriving on or about June 23, 2014.

Mrs. Groom continues to suffer from the effects of her severe Shigellosis illness.  Her gastrointestinal function remains impaired and highly uncomfortable.  Also, approximately 3 weeks after the onset of her initial gastrointestinal symptoms, Mrs. Groom developed pain and swelling in multiple joints throughout her body, including both knees, ankles, and hands, her right elbow, and her neck.  This condition is known as reactive arthritis.  All of these medical problems were proximately caused by the Shigellosis infection.

Further, at the time that she tested positive for Shigella, Mrs. Groom learned from public health officials that she could not care for children or family members due to her infectious state.  This meant that she, a wife and mother, could not cook meals for her family or participate in the many activities of daily living that she had always enjoyed.  Nor could she provide nanny or babysitting services for a local family that had employed her to do so.  During the time that she was positive for Shigella infection, all of the household activities that she could not do had to be done by her husband, who also worked full time as an active duty diver for the U.S. Navy.  Mrs. Groom continues to be limited in her physical activity due to the ongoing effects of her illness, including the reactive arthritis.

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.

If you or a family member became ill with a Shigella infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Shigella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Another Cyclospora Outbreak?

Federal officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now stepping in to assist health officials in 13 states in investigating a spike in cases of Cyclosporiasis, according to CIDRAP. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the parasite Cyclospora.

In total, 125 cases have been reported with no lead on a source.

At least 61 cases have been found in Texas alone. The other states with cases are: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Tennessee.

Officials aren’t yet calling this an outbreak since it is unclear whether all of the cases are related.

Patients are currently being interviewed about international travel, with 19 so far reporting that they had recently traveled internationally, while another 35 had not. Cyclospora is more common in some tropical countries.

Symptoms of Cyclosporiasis include watery, sometimes explosive diarrhea, as well as loss of appetite, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and bloating. If not treated, these symptoms may last anywhere from days to a month or more, with the potential for relapse.

Last year, a Cyclosporiasis outbreak linked to imported salad mix and fresh cilantro sickened 631 people in 25 states.

Previous Cyclosporiasis outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to imported fresh produce such as lettuce, salad mix, snow peas, raspberries, cilantro and basil.

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Florida Resident Sickened By Hepatitis A from “Organic Antioxidant Blend” Purchased at Costco

Plaintiff is one of 162 people in western U.S. States who have fallen ill from the product

 Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of California on behalf of plaintiff Karen Echard, who was sickened with hepatitis A (HAV) after consuming “Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend, ” a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix purchased at a Costco retail store. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined the product to be the cause of the outbreak. Co-counsel on the case are respected California attorneys Frederic L. Gordon and Richard R. Waite. The suit’s case number is CV14-05281 JAK (VBKx).

As of October 28, 2013, a total of 162 ill persons infected by HAV have been reported from 10 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (23), California (79), Colorado (28), Hawaii (8), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (11), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2). There were 71 hospitalizations and no known deaths.

Plaintiff Karen Echard is one of those sickened with HAV by the product. The Osecola County, Florida resident became ill on May 21, 2013 after consuming the product she purchased at Costco in April 2013. This was before the HAV outbreak was known and Costco had removed the product from store shelves. The fruit mix she purchased and consumed was imported, manufactured, distributed, and sold by defendants Costco, Townsend Farms, Purely Pomegranate, Fallon Trading, and United Juice. Costco stores removed the product from store shelves on or about May 31, 2013. As of the time of the filing of her complaint against the defendants, Karen was still recovering from her HAV infection.

“Many people think that healthy foods are not susceptible to HAV and other foodborne illnesses, 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 these illnesses as milk and eggs.”

Hepatitis A, which causes severe gastrointestinal illness and, in severe cases, liver failure and death, incubates in the human body for between 15 and 50 days. Many people with hepatitis A don’t experience any symptoms at initial onset, but if they do these can mimic the flu. Once the disease hits the liver, victims can experience severe stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice, itchy skin, body aches, and general weakness. The infection can continue for weeks or months.

“It is always very hard learning about an HAV outbreak, especially since it is so easy to eliminate the threat. Hepatitis A is a serious disease, but it’s also the only foodborne illness that is vaccine-preventable,” Marler said.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.

Romaine Lettuce Likely Cause of E. coli Outbreak in Arizona, California, Texas and Washington

We have filed two lawsuits to date and represent about a dozen of the ill.

The CDC reported on December 11, 2013, a total of 33 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from four states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (1), California (28), Texas (1), and Washington (3).  32% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two 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 consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, was the likely source of this outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections.

On June 17, 2014, the California Department of Public Health Report concluded that:

An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections occurred in October and November of 2013, affecting 33 individuals in four western states.  The outbreak disproportionately affected California residents, accounting for 85 percent of all case-patients. Two varieties of prepackaged RTE salads produced by “Company A” (Atherstone Foods – Glass Onion Catering) and sold by “GCA” (Trader Joe’s) were implicated as the source of infection.  This is supported by the statistically significant association of case-patients with consumption of one of the two implicated “GCA” salad varieties and by the regional distribution of reported cases matching the regional distribution of these two salads.  No other food items or exposures were associated with illness.  While these salads were strongly associated with the outbreak, the exact source of the contamination remains undetermined.

Today the Food and Drug Branch – Emergency Response Unit – of the California Department of Public Health produced the Environmental Investigation of an E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in October 2013 Associated with Pre-packaged Salads. The report 28 pages long with several hundred pages of attachments, traces the consumption of the salads to the possible source of the E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

This report not only implicates the two varieties of prepackaged salads noted above, but also two others – one produced by Atherstone Foods – Glass Onion Catering – and another produced by an unnamed manufacturer in Oakland – both for sale at Walgreens.

The investigators concluded that the one common item between the two manufacturers and the four salads was romaine lettuce from a single filed in Modesto, California grown shipped by Ratto Bros., and grown by Lake Bottom Farms, LLC.  Five of 44 environmental samples collected in areas around the implicated farm tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, however, the “positive samples were not a genetic match to the outbreak strain” – not a match to the ill people.

I found an interesting notation regarding audits (name of auditor redacted by CDPH) – this is on page 14 of the report:

Ratto Bros. also underwent routine audits from a third party, _____. The most recent _____ audit before the implicated romaine harvest was on August 8, 2013 (Exhibit B). The audit was performed on Ranch 6, 9, and 10 and the audit evaluated two areas, food safety management system requirements and good agricultural practices requirements. The firm had received a total score (before corrections) of 95.91% out of a possible 100%. The area where Ratto Bros. lost points in the audit was in good agricultural practices. They were marked down because there was animal activity (birds) on Ranch 6 during the audit, there were three dogs observed on land adjacent to Ranch 6, a water source was accessible to animals, and a water source was not free from a contamination issue (vegetation). The final _____ audit score was recalculated after corrective actions were performed by Ratto Bros. The final score was 99.32% out of 100% due to the fact that not all of the firm’s corrective actions were accepted by the _____ auditor. The corrective action that was not accepted by the _____ auditor was the non-conformance related to animals having access to the water source (open canal). The firm had taken measures to ensure that water used for irrigation, washing of equipment, and mixing of pesticides remained free of contaminants by filtering the water from an open source, chlorinating, testing regularly, maintaining equipment to ensure that it was not a source of contamination to the water source, and employing personnel and a security company to patrol the ranches. The aforementioned measures were not accepted by the _____ auditor, thus not allowing the full score of 100% to be reached. (Exhibit C).

Here are all Attachments and Exhibits.  We have filed five lawsuits to date and represent about a dozen of the ill.

E. coli:  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.

Nine Minnesota Applebee’s Linked to E. coli O111 Outbreak

Food product – likely salad ingredient – not yet identified.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday released a list of nine Applebee’s locations linked to a recent outbreak of E. coli.

People infected with the bacteria have reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Bemidji, Blaine (two locations), Duluth, Roseville, Willmar, Woodbury, Monticello and New Hope, the Health Department says.

The outbreak caused by the O111 form of the bacteria was first reported July 14. Fifteen cases have been reported so far, with 12 infected people confirmed to have eaten at Applebee’s between June 23 and 29.

Investigators from Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working to identify a food item associated with the outbreak.

E. coli:  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.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

84 Ill in 15 States and 4 Provinces and 2 Salmonella Chia Lawsuits

We have filed two suits – one on behalf of a Colorado resident and the other on behalf of two California residents.

As of July 14, 2014 the CDC reports, a total of 25 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (16 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 15 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 (5), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).  In the United States as a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds have been issued.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to investigate similar cases of Salmonella infection in several Canadian provinces. 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, 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. The status of two cases has not been provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 43 of 51 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.  Several Canadian companies have recalled products containing sprouted chia powder or chia seeds.

Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Applebee’s Linked to 15 Minnesota Illnesses

The Minnesota Department of Health reports this evening that two more cases of E. coli O111 infections have been confirmed in the state.

The department said it has been able to interview 14 of the 15 cases. Through the interviews, investigators confirmed that 12 of the ill people ate at an Applebee’s restaurant in Minnesota between June 23 and June 29.

The updated list of Applebee’s restaurants where ill people reported having eaten is now at nine — two locations in Blaine, and one each in Duluth, Roseville, Willmar, Woodbury, Monticello, Bemidji and New Hope.

The state Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are still looking to identify a food item that is the source of the illness.

Salmonella Chia Ill: 25 USA, 59 Canada

As of July 14, 2014, a total of 25 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (16 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 15 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 (5), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).

Three 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.

Sprouted chia powder is made from chia seeds that are sprouted, dried, and ground.

As a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds have been issued.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to investigate similar cases of Salmonella infection in several Canadian provinces. 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, 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. The status of two cases has not been provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 43 of 51 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.

Several Canadian companies have recalled products containing sprouted chia powder or chia seeds.

Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak Hits 621

Outbreak began in February 2013 with last reported illness June 25, 2014.

On July 4, 2014, the CDC reported a total of 621 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg from 29 states and Puerto Rico. Most of the ill persons (76%) have been reported from California.  The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows:

Alabama (1), Alaska (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (25), California (480), Colorado (9), Connecticut (1), Delaware (1), Florida (4), Georgia (1), Hawaii (1), Idaho (5), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Michigan (4), Missouri (5), Montana (1), North Carolina (1), Nevada (11), New Mexico (2), Oregon (17), Puerto Rico (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (13), Utah (6), Virginia (4), Washington (20), West Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1).

36% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.

2nd Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Idaho Resident Sickened By E. Coli Tainted Clover Sprouts Produced by Evergreen Sprouts

Plaintiff is one of 18 infected by sprouts served at Jimmy Johns, Pita Pit & Daanen’s Deli

Attorneys Bill Marler of Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, has filed a lawsuit in the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Idaho on behalf of Robin Rae Happeny, a Kootenai County resident sickened with Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121. The infection is linked to the recent E. coli outbreak due to raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Sprouts LLC of Moyie Springs, Idaho. Co-counsel on the case is Seattle attorney Robie G. Russell.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 18 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 have been reported from five states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Idaho (3), Michigan (1), Montana (2), Utah (1), and Washington (11). Forty-four percent of ill persons have been hospitalized.

Epidemiologic investigation has shown that the contaminated clover sprouts were served at multiple restaurant locations, including Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, Pita Pit, and on Daanen’s Delicatessen sandwiches, from which the plaintiff was infected. The FDA conducted an inspection of the Evergreen Fresh Sprouts facility and observed a number of unsanitary conditions. Health officials from the Washington State Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare have advised people not to consume raw clover sprouts manufactured and distributed by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, located in Idaho.

On or about April 27, 2014, Robin Rae Happeny purchased and consumed a turkey sandwich from Daanen’s Delicatessen’s restaurant located at 8049 N. Wayne Drive, Hayden, Idaho. The sandwich contained E. coli O121 tainted clover sprouts that had been manufactured and sold by Evergreen Sprouts.

The onset of Mrs. Happeny’s symptoms occurred on or about May 6, 2014. Symptoms included excruciating stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, which eventually turned bloody, and other gastrointestinal problems. She sought emergency medical treatment at Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and was treated with intravenous fluids for rehydration. When she returned for medical treatment on May 14, 2014, she elected to go to a larger regional medical center called Providence Sacred Heart in Spokane, Washington. During her hospitalization, a stool sample was submitted and ultimately tested positive for E. coli O121. Mrs. Happeny is currently continuing in her recovery from this illness.

“According to the FDA’s own 1999 advisory, Recommendations on Sprouted Seeds, sprouts have been increasingly implicated in foodborne outbreaks,” says Marler. “The time has come to label sprouts as potentially hazardous.”

As far back as September 1998, the FDA and CDC issued a warning against sprouts urging children, pregnant women, and the elderly that they should not eat alfalfa sprouts until growers find a way to reduce the risk of E. coli. They also warned that any people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating sprouts as well.

Although sprouts are often considered a “health food,” the warm, humid conditions needed for growing sprouts from seeds are also ideal for bacteria to flourish. Salmonella, E. coli, and other bacteria can grow to high levels without affecting the appearance of the sprouts.

Researchers have treated both seeds and sprouts with heat or washed them in solutions of chlorine, alcohol, and other chemicals. Some of these disinfectants reduced the levels of bacteria, but a potential hazard remained, especially for persons with weak immune systems. High temperatures that would kill the bacteria on the seeds would also keep them from sprouting.

“Until an effective way is found to prevent illness from sprouts, they should be eaten with caution, if at all,” says Marler. “In my experience, it is safest just to rid them from your diet altogether.”

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.