Outbreak tied to food prepared and sold by Co-op deli; Number of illnesses has grown from an initial 30 to a confirmed 250 people in just 3 weeks

A third lawsuit has been filed against Boise Consumer Cooperative, Inc., d/b/a Boise Co-op after over 250 people became violently ill with Salmonella poisoning after eating at the Co-op’s deli. The latest lawsuit concerns Ada County resident Mary Christine Henesh, who suffered from intense symptoms like abdominal cramping, incessant bouts of diarrhea, severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.

Unfortunately, Ms. Henesh’s experience is not a unique one. Now over 250 people have suffered with similar symptoms after eating food from the Boise Co-op. Some reports of illness have come in from outside of Idaho, traced to the Boise Airport terminal where the Co-op sells its products. While the incubation period for Salmonella is 24 to 72 hours, the number of cases continues to be reported, despite the fact that the Co-op voluntarily closed its deli and warned consumers to discard food items purchased after June 1, 2015.

So how does an outbreak like this—one that has endangered the lives of hundreds—happen?

According to Bill Marler, a food safety expert and attorney, the answer comes down to cross-contamination.

“Yes, this strain of Salmonella came from a source, but through cross contamination it spread to other sources, which then exponentially grows the number of potential victims,” said Marler.

Marler points to the results of recent lab tests run by Central District Health Department (CDHD). Its report indicates several food items testing positive for Salmonella, including raw turkey, tomatoes, and onions.

“The fact that several food items tested positive points to mishandling in the kitchen. A cook touches contaminated turkey and then some tomatoes and so on. Each new thing that person touches spreads the contamination, especially if we’re talking about raw food products,” said Marler.

Salmonella is an enteric bacterium, meaning that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with human or animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. They are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but all foods, including vegetables, may become contaminated. An infected food handler who neglects to wash his or her hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom may also contaminate food.

“The way Salmonella spreads is quite unsettling,” said Marler. “The method of contamination that is the most easily prevented is often the cause of outbreaks in the restaurant industry. We should all wash our hands after using the bathroom, but I can’t tell you how many outbreaks I’ve worked with that started because an infected food service worker chose to serve a Salmonella sandwich rather than take a few minutes to practice proper hygiene.”

Marler has been an advocate for victims of food borne illnesses since representing those made sickest by an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 traced back to fast food giant Jack in the Box in 1993. He has represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and is seen as an expert on food safety.

Salmonella is the second most common foodborne illness in the United States. Approximately 1.4 million cases of Salmonella occur each year with 95% of those caused by tainted food. The acute symptoms of Salmonella include the sudden onset of nausea, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea and mucous over a period of days. While there is no cure, infected persons usually recover completely, although it may take months. A small number of people experience ongoing symptoms such as joint pain, which can lead to chronic arthritis.

Bill Marler, co-founder and partner with Marler Clark Food Safety Law Firm, LLP is representing Mary Christine Henesh in the third lawsuit against Boise Co-op, along with co-counsel Robie G. Russell of Russell Law Offices. The case code is CVPI1510586.

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.