By: James Peacock

Today, the lawyers of Robins Cloud LLP filed the first lawsuit for the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 47 people in 12 different states. The lawsuit names Grande Produce, the company that distributed the potentially contaminated yellow Maradol papayas, as defendant. The plaintiff alleges that the papaya they consumed led to a bout of Salmonella poisoning. This lawsuit, with the help of the Burnett Law Firm, was filed in the United States District Court of New Jersey and seeks compensatory damages. Although this is the first lawsuit filed, it is anticipated that more lawsuits are to come. The lawsuit filed today alleges, “Defendant owed a duty to all persons who purchased and consumed its products, including Plaintiff, to prepare, and sell food products that were safe to eat, that were not adulterated with deadly pathogens, like Salmonella, and that were not in violation of the standard of care in proper food handling and preparation. Defendant breached this duty.”

The outbreak, which is currently being investigated by the CDC, has sickened 47 people so far. The 12 different states affected by the outbreak include: New York with 13 cases, Virginia with 6 cases, Maryland with 5 cases, Pennsylvania with 4 cases, Iowa with 1 case, Kentucky with 1 case, Massachusetts with 1 case, Minnesota with 1 case, Texas with 1 case, and Utah with 1 case. One person has died in the state of New York. Twelve people have needed to be hospitalized because of their illness. Food poisoning lawyer Jory D. Lange Jr. has said, “Salmonella is a dangerous foodborne pathogen, and can be deadly. As this investigation continues, we will learn how the papayas became contaminated with Salmonella bacteria and the supply chain related to these products. By learning what went wrong in this outbreak, we hope to prevent future food poisoning outbreaks.”

The FDA recently announced that consumers should avoid eating Grande Produce-distributed papayas and a small, limited recall has been made by the company. Consumers are advised to ask retailers and restaurants where the stores got their papayas in order to make sure that they are not from Mexico. Most individual papaya will have a sticker label on them that states what company is selling the papaya. A visit to that company’s website will reveal where their papaya is grown. If there is no sticker or the sticker does not convey the correct information, retailers and restaurants will be able to tell consumers where the papaya came from. The papayas are sent to these establishments in boxes that clearly state what company is selling them. If an establishment does not currently have a box of papaya to look for the company on, then the papaya distributor will be listed in the supplier logs. There should be no reason, under any circumstances, for a retailer or restaurant to have no idea where their products came from.

Salmonella

Salmonella infections, commonly referred to as Salmonellosis, make up one of the most common forms of foodborne illness in the United States. The CDC estimates that up to 1.2 million cases of Salmonella poisoning occur each year. This estimate includes the fact that many Salmonella cases go unreported and undiagnosed. The tracking of Salmonellosis first took place in 1962, but scientists have been aware of the bacterium for at least 125 years. The work of Dr. Salmon and his assistant, Theobald Smith, allowed for the isolation of Salmonella bacteria just 30 years after the acceptance of germ theory. Since that time, the bacteria that make up the Salmonella genus have been found to have a variety of strains, or serotypes. These serotypes are based on the antigens found on the surface and flagella of the bacteria. At the first usage of this method of categorization, 44 different serotypes had been identified. Today there are more than 2000 known serotypes of Salmonella bacteria, though not all are commonly the source of foodborne illness outbreaks. Salmonella infections are most commonly caused by Salmonella Enteritidis, Typhimurium, Newport, javiana, Heidelberg, I 4,[5], 12:i:-, Muenchen, Montevideo, and Saintpaul.

Out of the CDC estimated 1.2 million annual cases of illness, about 19,000 of them require hospitalization, and about 450 lead to death. While there are actually two distinct types of illness caused by Salmonella bacteria, nontyphoidal salmonellosis and typhoid fever, nontyphoidal salmonellosis is by far the more common type. In fact, there has not been an outbreak connected to typhoid fever caused by Salmonella since 1999.

Salmonellosis will generally produce symptoms within a 6 to 72 hour window after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms produced by salmonellosis will usually include headache, fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Recovery from a case of Salmonella poisoning will typically start after about a day, but symptoms can last for up to a week. There is a chance that the infection will worsen and cause one of several complications. The most common of these complications is dehydration. Severe dehydration can be very serious, and will often cause hospitalization to be required. Other complications include reactive arthritis and blood poisoning, which are both very serious but much less common. Those with certain risk factors, including the elderly, children, those with HIV/AIDS, and others with suppressed immune systems are at an increased risk of developing a more serious case of Salmonellosis. These risk factors also heighten the chance that one of the complications associated with Salmonella poisoning will occur. Salmonella bacteria can be found in a wide variety of foods and drinks, so it is important to practice proper food safety techniques in order to reduce the chance of infection. Salmonella bacteria have been known to cause outbreaks through meats, poultry, eggs, fish, shrimp, milk, dairy products, yeast, spices, coconut, raw egg, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables, and chocolate. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning, contact a medical professional.

About Robins Cloud LLP

Robins Cloud LLP is a national law firm dedicated to helping families who have been harmed by large corporations. For over 25 years, we have helped families who have been harmed by defective products and foodborne illnesses. Robins Cloud LLP is currently investigating the details of the Salmonella food poisoning outbreak linked to papayas.

UnsafeFoods will continue to track the outbreak as the investigation progresses and will post updates as they come.