Pork manufacturer, Kapowsin Meats responsible for 134 sickened WA residents; Had Salmonella been listed as adulterant, the current outbreak may have been prevented

Thurston County resident, Tara Kuivikko, filed a lawsuit on August 18, 2015 against Kapowsin Meat, Inc., a local slaughterhouse located in Graham, Washington. The plaintiff, who is suing for damages from Salmonella poisoning, is being represented by food safety advocate, William D. Marler, managing attorney at Marler Clark LLP, PS, based in Seattle, Washington.

On or about June 28, 2015, Kuivikko consumed pork contaminated with Salmonella that originated from a whole hog product manufactured and sold by Kapowsin Meat. She began to feel ill the following day, and subsequently began to suffer from severe diarrhea, nausea, fever, and body aches on June 30.

By July 5, Kuivikko’s diarrhea had turned bloody and she sought medical treatment. Her stool sample tested positive for Salmonella, specifically the outbreak strain linked to pork, and was prescribed antibiotics. As of August 18, 2015, Kuivikko still suffers from diarrhea, fatigue, and joint pain as a result of her Salmonella illness, and continues to seek medical treatment for these ongoing conditions.

Kapowsin Meat has recalled approximately 116,262 pounds of whole hogs that may be contaminated with Salmonella that were produced between April 18, 2015 and July 27, 2015. So far, 134 victims of Salmonella poisoning have been reported between the ages of 1 and 90. Among the 111 victims with available information, 14% have been hospitalized for their illness. Luckily, no deaths have yet been reported.

Bill Marler, food safety attorney representing Kuivikko, is not only alarmed at the negligence posed by the slaughtering facility, but by current legislation on the federal level.

In 1938, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) to prevent adulterated or misbranded foods from entering interstate commerce. In Section 402 (a)(4), the term “adulterated” is defined as food “prepared or packed in unsanitary conditions and may be injurious to health, or contains poisonous or deleterious substances”. While deadly bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 is listed as an adulterant, Salmonella, which can also be lethal in some cases, is not considered an adulterant.

“Federal regulations are intended to keep the public safe,” said Marler, food safety activist and foodborne illness expert. “Without listing Salmonella as an adulterant under the FDCA, especially the antibiotic resistant strains, the safety of consumers is compromised. Its exclusion is exceedingly irresponsible, and entirely unacceptable.”

Had Salmonella been previously listed as an adulterant under the FDCA, it is likely that the current outbreak of Salmonella stemming from pork would not have occurred, saving hundreds of victims their health, time, and various hardships. Since E. coli O157:H7 was listed in the mid 1990s, the strain has almost completely disappeared, proving the addition to the adulterant list extremely effective in preventative health measures. Marler has recently been featured on PBS’s Frontline (http://pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/trouble-with-chicken/) revealing the problems associated with omitting Salmonella as an adulterant.

Marler was also featured this year in The New Yorker to discuss issues relating to Salmonella in the meat packing industry: (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/02/bug-system).

Marler has been an advocate for victims of foodborne illnesses since representing those made sickest by an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 traced back to fast food giant, Jack in the Box. He has since represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses.

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.

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. Marler Clark attorneys 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 firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against companies such as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.