By: Jory D. Lange, Jr.

On March 8, 2017, Robins Cloud’s food safety lawyers filed the second lawsuit in the nation against The SoyNut Butter Company. The SoyNut Butter Company makes “I.M. Healthy” brand SoyNut Butter and granola coated with SoyNut Butter. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and multiple state and local public health agencies have now linked both “I.M. Healthy” brand products to the current nationwide outbreak of E. coli cases. The CDC reports that there are currently 16 victims of E. coli food poisoning linked to this outbreak. The victims live in nine states: Arizona (4 cases); California (4 cases); Maryland (1 case); Missouri (1 case); New Jersey (1 case); Oregon (2 cases); Virginia (1 case); Washington (1 case), and Wisconsin (1 case).

Robins Cloud filed the lawsuit on behalf of a two year old victim of E. coli food poisoning. The two year old child developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious form of kidney failure, after eating “I.M. Healthy” brand SoyNut Butter that was contaminated with E. coli bacteria. This is the second E. coli lawsuit filed against The SoyNut Butter Company in the nation, and the first lawsuit filed against The SoyNut Butter Company in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

E. coli contamination is completely undetectable to consumers. SoyNut Butter contaminated with E. coli bacteria looks, smells, and tastes just the same as uncontaminated SoyNut Butter.

Nut butters contaminated with E. coli bacteria are especially dangerous to children. Children under the age of five are among the highest risk groups for developing serious E. coli complications, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious form of kidney failure. Because children’s immune systems are still developing, children are less able than healthy adults to fight off E. coli infections. This is especially true of young children.

And like peanut butter, SoyNut Butter is not normally cooked before it is eaten. When an unsuspecting parent, teacher, or caregiver spreads SoyNut Butter on a child’s sandwich, cooking is not usually a part of making a sandwich. Without high temperature cooking, E. coli bacteria can survive and multiply within contaminated SoyNut Butter.

The SoyNut Butter Company markets its “I.M. Healthy” brand products as “safe” alternatives to peanut butter for children with peanut allergies.

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) occurs in 2-7% of E. coli food poisoning victims. HUS primarily occurs in children. The onset of HUS averages five to ten days after diarrhea begins. It is the most common cause of renal failure in children. Approximately half of the children who suffer HUS require dialysis, and at least 5% of those children who survive suffer from long-term renal impairment. At least 5% of children who survive suffer severe brain damage. While somewhat rare, serious injury to the pancreas, resulting in death or the development of diabetes, can also occur as a complication of hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The SoyNut Butter Company

The SoyNut Butter company’s products are served to “over 2 million children a month.” “I.M. Healthy” brand SoyNut Butter products are served to children in “everything from schools to daycare facilities, camps and Head Start programs[.]”

If you or your family has ingested SoyNut Butter Company products or ‘I.M. Healthy’ SoyNut Butter and are showing any of the signs or symptoms of E. coli food poisoning, you should seek immediate medical attention.

SoyNut Butter Recall Expands, Expands Again, and Expands Again

Following the announcement of the link between its products and the nationwide E. coli outbreak, The SoyNut Butter Company initiated a recall of its ‘I.M. Healthy’ brand Original Creamy SoyNut Butter. Company representatives stated that they decided to recall their SoyNut Butter products after the FDA contacted them about “a possible link between our product and illnesses regarding E. coli.” The company has since expanded its recall twice to include all of its ‘I.M.’ SoyNut Butter products and granola. On March 7, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company recalled all “I.M. Healthy” brand SoyNut Butters and “I.M. Healthy” brand granolas coated with SoyNut Butter. The CDC, FDA, local government agencies, and the company urges the public to immediately stop eating the affected products.

What You Can Do

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that “consumers do not eat, and childcare centers, schools, and other institutions do not serve, any variety or size of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter, or I.M. Healthy granola coated with SoyNut Butter, regardless of the date of purchase or the date listed on the container.”

The CDC and FDA urge consumers that even “if some of the SoyNut Butter or granola was not eaten or served and no one got sick, throw the rest of the product away. Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets, or other animals can’t eat it.”

Most people infected with E. coli develop diarrhea (which can often be bloody) and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after eating the E. coli-contaminated food. If you believe that you or your child may have gotten sick from eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter or I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter, please contact your healthcare provider.

Some people recover within one week. But the CDC reports that: “Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).”
• “HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.
• “Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination.
• “People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.”

Robins Cloud LLP is a nationwide law firm devoted to helping families who have been harmed by large corporations. Robins Cloud LLP helps victims of defective products and foodborne illnesses. The firm is providing free, no-obligation legal consultations to the sickened adults and families whose children may have been harmed after eating the affected products. To discuss a case of HUS with a Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome lawyer, call 866.517.9520 .