Imagine that the phone call comes or an email pops into your inbox – “Sir, we have been contacted by the health authorities and they say our product (polony) has been linked to illnesses and deaths. What do we do?”

So, what do you do?  Lawrence MacDougall received that call.  Now, what has he done and what will he do?

After being involved in every major (and a few minor) food poisoning outbreaks since the Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak of 1993, I have seen it all. I have seen good CEOs act badly and make their and their company’s problems worse and I have seen bad CEOs handle the outbreak with such aplomb that they become associated with both food safety and good PR.

So, what do you do?

Of course, it is always best to avoid the outbreak to begin with. When I have spoken to CEOs or their Boards–generally, pre-outbreak and pre-lawsuit–I always pitch them on “why it is a bad idea to poison your customers.” Putting safe food as the primary goal–yes, alas, even before profits–will (absent an error) give you a very, very good chance of never seeing me on the other side of a courtroom.

But, what if despite your best efforts, or what if you simply did not care, and an outbreak happens.

So, what do you do?

First, have a pre-existing relationship with the folks that regulate you. If someone holds your business in the palm of his or her hand, you should at least be on a first name basis. No, I am not suggesting that you can influence your way out of the outbreak but knowing who is telling you that your company has a problem allows you the ability to get and understand the facts. Do regulators and their investigators make mistakes? Perhaps, but not very often and not often enough to waste time arguing that your company did not poison customers.

Second, stop production of the implicated product and initiate a recall of all products at risk immediately. This procedure should have been practiced, and practiced, and practiced before. All possibly implicated suppliers should be alerted and all retailers should be offered assistance. Consumers need to be engaged too.  The goal now is to get poisoned product out of the marketplace and certainly out of the homes of consumers.

Third, launch your own investigation with two approaches, and at the same time. Are the regulators correct? And, what went wrong? Tell everyone to save all documents and electronic data. The goal here is to get things right. If it really is not your product, what has happened is bad, but survivable. If it really was your product, then learning what happened helps make sure it is likely to never happen again. More than anything, be transparent. Tell everyone what you find–good or bad.

According to the South African Minister of Public Health, Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi:

Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from stool collected from one of the ill children, and from both of the polony specimens collected from the crèche. These isolates were sent to the NICD Centre for Enteric Diseases and underwent whole genome sequencing and genomic analysis. The ST6 sequence type was confirmed on all three isolates on Saturday 27th January. Remember that in the last press conference I informed you that from clinical isolates obtained from patients (patient blood), 9 sequence types of Listeria monocytogenes were isolated and 91% were of sequence type 6 (ST6). We had then concluded that time that this outbreak is driven by ST6.

Following the lead from the tests performed on these children from Soweto and the food they had ingested, the EHPs (Environmental Health Practitioners), together with the NICD and DAFF representatives, accompanied by 3 technical advisors from the World Health Organization in Geneva, visited a food-production site in Polokwane and conducted an extensive food product and environmental sampling.

Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from over 30% of the environmental samples collected from this site, which happens to be the Enterprise factory in Polokwane.

To conclude the investigation, whole genome sequencing analysis was performed from this Enterprise factory and the results became available midnight or last night. The outbreak strain, ST6, was confirmed in at least 16 environmental samples collected from this Enterprise facility.


As of the March 14, 2018 update of Listeria monocytogenes Outbreak from the Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), a total of 978 cases has been reported since 2017. Since the last situational update (8 March 2018), 11 additional cases have been reported to the NICD. The death total remained at 183.Given the above work by NICD and the fact that the number of ill is failing post-recall, Tiger Brands – Enterprise has nothing to argue about the source of the outbreak.

Fourth, assuming that the outbreak is in fact your fault, publicly admit it. If it is not your fault, then fight it. However, pretending that you are innocent when you are actually at fault will get you nowhere. Asking for forgiveness is not a bad thing when you have something to be forgiven for. Saying you are sorry is not wrong when you are in fact wrong.

Mr. MacDougall, given the facts saying this was both heartless and stupid: “There is no direct link with the deaths to our products that we are aware of at this point. Nothing.”

Fifth, do not blame your customers.  If your food has a pathogen it is not your customers responsibility to handle it like it will likely kill them or a member of their family.  Hoping that the consumer will fix your mistake takes your eye off of avoiding the mistake in the first place.

Sixth, reach out to your customers and consumers who have been harmed. Offering to pay legitimate losses will save money and your company’s reputation in the long run.  The public with give you credit and it will be a reduction from the future award during litigation.

Seventh, teach all what you have learned. Do not hide what you have learned. Make your knowledge freely available so we all limit the risk that something similar will happen again.

Mr. MacDougall, I will match you personally 1,000,000 Rand to donate to an Organization or University in South Africa to lead a review of both food processing standards and governmental regulations and oversight.  I will help find experts from around the world to assist.

Yes, you can do all of the above and still get sued. And, I might be the one to sue you, and in Mr. MacDougall’s case I am. Yet, companies who have followed the above find their passage through an outbreak, recall, and litigation temporary. The companies that struggle for unfounded reasons will seldom exist in the long run, or they will simply pay my clients more money.

Bill Marler is trial lawyer who spends a great deal of time trying to convince companies around the world why it is a bad idea to poison customers. Twitter @bmarler and Blog at

As of March 8, 2018, 967 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD from all provinces since January 1, 2017. To date, 749 cases were reported in 2017, and 218 cases in 2018.

Females account for 56% (525/933) cases where gender is reported. Where age was reported (n=930), ages range from birth to 92 years (median 18 years) and 42% (390/930) are neonates aged ≤28 days. Of neonatal cases, 96% (373/390) had early-onset disease (birth to ≤6 days).

Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59%, 572/967) followed by Western Cape (12%, 115/967) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 68/967) provinces. Cases have been diagnosed in both public (65%, 630/967) and private (35%, 337/967) healthcare sectors.

Amongst 967 cases, 709 (73%) specimens that were positive for Listeria monocytogenes on blood culture, while 208 (22%) were positive on cerebrospinal fluid. 70/967 (7%) specimens were positive from a variety of other sites (stool, pus, abscess or other fluid). Four public sector patients had positive PCR test for Listeria monocytogenes, but these patients also had a positive culture.  Additional data on a limited number of cases is available where completed case investigation forms have been submitted or provincial investigations have been conducted. Race distribution amongst 308 cases is black (261, 85%), colored (21, 7%), white (25, 7%) and Asian (1, <1%). Outcome is known for 669/967 (69%) patients of whom 183 (27%) have died.

Tiger Brands said Enterprise Foods had received a report from the Department of Health on Thursday confirming the presence of Listeria monocytogenes ST6 (LST6) strain in its Polokwane factory. On Sunday‚ the department announced that the source of the current outbreak of listeriosis was Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane facility.

Marler Clark has filed several lawsuits and represents three dozen victims.

The CDC reports as of March 6, 2018, 170 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 7 states. Illness Count Iowa (149), Illinois (9), Nebraska (5), Minnesota (3), South Dakota (2) Indiana (1), Texas (1).

Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 8, 2018, to February 18, 2018. Ill people range in age from 7 to 89 years, with a median age of 59. Sixty-six percent of ill people are female. 62 hospitalizations and no deaths have been reported.

Illnesses that occurred after February 12, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to four weeks.

WGS analysis did not identify predicted antibiotic resistance in 67 of 72 isolates (70 ill people and 2 food samples). Five isolates from ill people contained genes for resistance to all or some of the following antibiotics: amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, gentamicin, streptomycin, sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline. This resistance is unlikely to affect the treatment of most people, but some infections might be difficult to treat with antibiotics usually prescribed and may require a different antibiotic. Testing of outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing methods is currently underway in CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS)laboratory.

State and local health officials continue to interview ill people to ask about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 159 people interviewed, 131 (82%) reported eating chicken salad from Fareway stores. Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. produced the chicken salad that ill people reported eating.

It takes an average of two to four weeks from when a person becomes ill with Salmonella to when the illness is reported to CDC or health officials. Because of this reporting lag, the additional 105 people added to this investigation likely became ill from eating chicken salad recalled by Triple T Specialty Meats, Inc. which is no longer available for purchase. The last reported illness began on February 18, 2018.

Black First Land First, which laid murder charges against the corporations at the Hillbrow Police Station, said heads had to roll.

Leader of Black First Land First Andile Mngxitama (BLF) believes the listeriosis outbreak that has claimed as many as 180 lives amid about 1,000 confirmed infections can be categorized as “murder”.

He tweeted on Monday morning that his organization would lay murder charges against Tiger Brands, Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken, which he says has links to business magnate Johann Rupert.

He claims Enterprise was complicit in a corporate cover-up and should be treated as party to murder. He described their alleged actions as “premeditated murder for profits”.

Sounds somewhat familiar?


South Africa’s biggest consumer foods maker, Tiger Brands, has recalled products produced by its Enterprise unit after the government traced the source of a listeria outbreak that has killed almost 180 people and sickened nearly 1,000 to its Enterprise manufacturing facility. Tiger Brands said it has suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston.

South Africa’s laws governing products liability closely parallel those found in many US jurisdictions. While the country has long-recognized that a manufacturer of unfit food can be held civilly liable in negligence, legislation introduced almost decade ago codified strict products liability principles applicable to every entity in a product’s supply chain. Further, South Africa also holds entities in a supply chain criminally liable for making contaminated or unfit food available to consumers.

Prior to enacting legislation in the early 2000’s, South African manufacturers of food could be held civilly liable under principles similar to those common in US tort law. Specifically, claimants alleging injury caused by unfit food could demonstrate that an entity was negligent in its manufacture of the product. The Muzik v. Cansone Del Mare case is a well-known example of a food-poisoning litigation where the court found in favor of a victim claiming a restaurant’s negligent preparation and service of seafood caused his serious injuries. The restaurant, Cansone Del Mare, served Muzik contaminated mussels which made him severely ill and led to his hospitalization. He subsequently sued the restaurant, and was awarded damages including his medical bills, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life because his fear of being poisoned again prevented him from enjoying a previously-loved food.

A few years after Muzik, South Africa provided foodborne illness claimants a powerful avenue of recovery when it enacted the Consumer Protection Act No. 68 of 2006 (CPA). Section 61 of the CPA establishes broad strict liability principles, specifically holding everyone in the supply chain of a product—manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers—liable for any harm their product causes, irrespective of whether or not they behaved negligently. The elements of strict products liability in South Africa is near-identical to the burden in the US: a claimant need only prove that their injury or illness was caused by (1) the supply of an unsafe product, (2) a product failure, defect, or hazard in the product, or (3) inadequate instructions or warnings. 61(1)(a)—(c).[1]

If a claimant prevails in demonstrating her burden, the responsible parties are held jointly and severally liable for, “the death of, or injury to, any natural person; an illness of any natural person…and any economic loss that results from,” that death, injury, or illness. 61(5)(a)—(d). While initially appearing to be broad-sweeping legislation, Section 61 may also limit the liability of so-called “passive retailers”—entities who merely obtain pre-prepared food to sell to consumers. The relevant language bars liability if, “it is unreasonable to expect the distributor or retailer to have discovered that the unsafe product characteristic, failure, defect or hazard, having regard to that person’s role in marketing the goods to consumers.” 61(4)(c).

Finally, despite its many similarities to US product liability laws, South Africa also holds entities criminally liable for making contaminated or unfit food available to the public. The Food, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act 54 of 1972 makes it a criminal offense for any person to, “sell[], manufacture[] or import for sale, any foodstuff which is contaminated, impure or decayed, or is, in terms of any regulation deemed to be harmful or injurious to human health.” (2)(1)(b)(i). If the criminal offense is committed by an employee of a food service establishment, such liability attaches to the employer unless he can demonstrate that he took all reasonable measures to prevent the act or omission that led to the offense. (8)(1).[2]


[1]           Section 53 of the CPA defines a “defect” as, “(i) any material imperfection in the manufacture of the goods or components, or in performance of the services, that renders the goods or results of the service less acceptable than persons generally would be reasonably entitled to expect in the circumstances; or (ii) any characteristic of the goods or components that renders the goods or components less useful, practicable or safe than persons generally would be reasonably entitled to expect in the circumstances.”

[2]           Simply forbidding the particular act or omission is insufficient to avoid liability. (8)(2).

I am heading to South Africa Tuesday morning – a 24 hour flight – to speak at a Listeria Conference on Thursday.

South Africa’s biggest consumer foods maker, Tiger Brands, has recalled products produced by its Enterprise unit after the government traced the source of a listeria outbreak that has killed almost 180 people and sickened nearly 1,000 to its Enterprise manufacturing facility. Tiger Brands said it has suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities in Polokwane and Germiston.

Tiger Brands has asked consumers to remove any Enterprise ready-to-eat meat products from their fridges and place in a plastic bag – away from other foods. Tiger Brands, which owns Enterprise Foods, confirmed that Enterprise was undertaking a full national recall on all its ready-to-eat meat products.

This comes after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday that processed food manufacturers Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL) have been issued with safety recall notices following the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

According to the Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/ National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), as of February 27, 2018, a total of 945 cases have been reported since 1 January 2017, with 30 additional cases recorded since the last update , February 20, 2018.  To date, 743 cases were reported in 2017, and 202 cases in 2018. Females account for 55% (516/943) cases where gender is reported. Where age was reported (n=909), ages range from birth to 92 years (median 19 years) and 41% (377/902) are neonates aged ≤28 days (Figure 2). Of neonatal cases, 94% (355/377) had early-onset disease (birth to ≤6 days). Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59%, 555/945) followed by Western Cape (12%, 116/945) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 66/945) provinces. Outcome at the end of hospitalization is known for an additional 18 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 635/945 (67%) patients. 176 (19%) patients are known to have died.

Ill employee prompts Kroger to vaccinate employees but not customers.

According to Kentucky press reports, an employee in the produce department of the Kroger store at 4915 Dixie Highway has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A.

Kroger said the man worked at the store in Pleasure Ridge Park in February, and customers who bought produce between Feb. 4 to Feb. 28 may have been exposed to the virus. Any produce purchased during that time frame should be thrown away, Kroger said.

The employee worked third shift in the produce section and was diagnosed with Hepatitis A on Feb. 28 at a visit to the doctor. He immediately notified his supervisor, and Kroger notified the Health Department later that day, the company said.

Kroger said officials are cooperating with local and state health officials. Other employees threw away all the produce that the man is believed to have come in contact with and cleaned the store.

Additionally, Kroger is offering all associates and their families Hepatitis A vaccines. About 300 people work at the Pleasure Ridge Park store.

Hepatitis A can be transmitted through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea and jaundice.

Since Jan. 1, 2017, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) has identified 125 confirmed cases of acute hepatitis A, a liver disease caused by hepatitis A virus. An increase in cases since Aug. 1, 2017, primarily among the homeless and drug users, prompted declaration of a statewide outbreak in Nov. 2017. Viral sequencing has linked several outbreak-associated cases in Kentucky with outbreaks in California and Utah.

KDPH is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health departments to provide guidance and education to health professionals and at-risk populations. Treatment for acute hepatitis A generally involves supportive care, with specific complications treated as appropriate. Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Counts as of Feb. 24, 2018

  • Total Outbreak: 125
  • Hospitalizations: 91
  • Deaths: 0

According to the Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/ National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), as of February 27, 2018, a total of 945 cases have been reported since 1 January 2017, with 30 additional cases recorded since the last update , February 20, 2018.  To date, 743 cases were reported in 2017, and 202 cases in 2018. Females account for 55% (516/943) cases where gender is reported. Where age was reported (n=909), ages range from birth to 92 years (median 19 years) and 41% (377/902) are neonates aged ≤28 days (Figure 2). Of neonatal cases, 94% (355/377) had early-onset disease (birth to ≤6 days). Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59%, 555/945) followed by Western Cape (12%, 116/945) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 66/945) provinces. Outcome at the end of hospitalization is known for an additional 18 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 635/945 (67%) patients. 176 (19%) patients are known to have died.

At present, the source of the outbreak is not known. The public are advised that processed, ready-to-eat meat products, soft cheeses, and unpasteurised milk and dairy products should be avoided by persons who are at risk of listeriosis. In addition, processed, ready-to-eat meat products include viennas, polonies, russians, ham, other ‘cold’ meats, sausages, various corned meats, salami, pepperoni and similar products typically found in the processed meat sections of food retailers and butcheries should be avoided, or thoroughly cooked in boiling water or heated at high temperatures of 70°C or higher before eating.

Watching the growing “rock melon” cantaloupe Listeria outbreak in Australia (at least 10 sick with 2 dead), brings back bad memories of the 2011 Jensen Farm Cantaloupe Listeria outbreak that sickened nearly 150 with over 30 killed.

Although food poisoning is a prevalent issue in Australia and New Zealand, both countries have taken major legislative efforts over the past decade to better regulate and enforce food and hygiene standards. Although both have similar food regulations, they have different legal regimes that treat food poisoning cases differently. In Australia, food law is dealt with mostly through tortious negligence and statutory claims. These claims were substantially altered through major tort reform in 2002, completed on a state/territory level. In New Zealand, tort law was largely abandoned in the 1970s, and food poisoning cases are mostly dealt with as a regulatory matter; with local health units investigating claims and rewarding small amounts of compensation to victims. Despite these differences in how victims pursue claims, Australia and New Zealand created a joint bilateral Food Standards Authority to develop and administer a common code of regulations, which have been incorporated into local law.

Australia’s Law and Regulatory Regime

Australia’s legal regime is similar to the United States in that there is a federal government and separate state/territory governments with their own autonomy. Historically, Australia’s tort system was made up of common law precedent and doctrines, like the US. However, following a major tort reform in 2002, Australia’s common law has mostly been overridden by statutes, especially in the areas of negligence and personal injury law.

In 2002, the various state and territory governments within Australia appointed a panel of experts to review the law of negligence, primarily to address the public’s growing concern over unaffordable and unsustainable public liability insurance premiums and damages awards. The panel sought to make key recommendations for legislative reform to tort law with the objective of limiting liability and quantum of damages arising from personal injury and death. A uniform tort scheme was suggested by the panel but was ultimately rejected by state and local governments. Instead, individualized legislation was thereafter enacted by each state/territory, which consequentially created locally nuanced law. These local nuances included slightly differing definitions for laws such as negligence, standards of care, and different food acts.

Although the uniform tort scheme was rejected, a ‘quasi-consistency’ scheme has developed, as states have generally all agreed to narrow the scope of potential liability and reduce damages to confine insurer’s exposure. The major resulting changes to the tort scheme included: (i) circumstances in which damages can be recovered negligence; (ii) the types and quantum of damage that can be recovered; and (iii) further increases in public liability insurance premiums.

Since the tort reform, there has been a major decline in personal injury claims, including a 70-80% reduction of Australian personal injury claims payments on business and household insurance policies. Advocates of the tort reform claim that it has reduced insurance premiums. Skeptics on the other hand claim that the new reform transfers the financial burden of reckless conduct from the at-fault party and its insurer onto the victim, and that there are no economic penalties for businesses that refuse to invest in injury avoidance, while those who invest are penalized by the increased costs.

The reform also covered state public liability laws that govern public liability compensation claims from insurers. As in the general tort reform, these laws differ between states, with slightly different processes required to establish public liability compensation. Compensation also differs from state to state, and damages usually include: lump sum compensation payment (up to $427,000), medical expenses, loss wages, future care requirements, and miscellaneous expenses. Further, victims can no longer receive compensation for mental anguish unless the injury was ‘serious’, which is determined by the courts.

With respect to food regulations specifically, the federal Agency in charge of food handling is administered by the Australia Department of Health and Aging, and is Australia’s version of the F.D.A. Furthermore, each state has its own authority and food act that is based mainly on federal standards. However, similar to the local nuances that have occurred in the general tort reform, certain unique legislation requirements are developing in different state/territory jurisdictions.

Currently, new legislation is springing up across Australia to make food regulation even more stringent than it already is. In Queensland and New South Whales for example, new regulations have come into force this year that include the controversial name and shame process and a mandatory accredited food safety adviser in every food-related business. First, name and shame regulation allows the local authorities to list the names of violators on its website for those premises that receive penalty notices from the local food authorities for serious food offenses within a year. Local authorities are made up of council regulatory officers who enforce the local food authorities’ mandate.

A second regulatory scheme can be seen in new amendments to Queensland’s Food Act, which include a mandatory employment of an accredited food safety adviser in every food-related business. These employed advisors will be fully trained and will have the responsibility of monitoring and training staff to ensure they meet acceptable standards. This strict legislation is still being investigated in New South Whales and is still voluntary at this point, given some concerns over whether local standards comport with federal standards. It is too early to tell how successful this legislation is as a deterrent to food violations, but it has been successful in Victoria, where businesses have been required to have such trained employees for years now.

To summarize, the 2002 tort reforms in Australia have had a major impact on food law and food poisoning cases in Australia, and although once a common law issue, food law is now codified into individualized legislations within each state/territory. Citizens can sue companies and businesses for food poisoning claims under civil liability laws, public liability insurance claims, and stator redress. Additionally, new legislation is being enacted to ensure greater compliance by local businesses to help reduce the likelihood that a business violates food codes.

Some Major Cases In Australia

Every year, Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing estimate that there are 5.4 million cases of food poisoning; mainly because people are eating out more, and new strains of food-borne illnesses have emerged. While most cases are relatively mild, there are near 40,000 cases with serious complications, with around 120 causing death annually. That being said, Australia was fourth in the world according to 2008 food safety rankings.

Garibaldi Case (1995): Fifteen years ago about 190 people experienced illnesses linked to eating mettwurst (a type of sausage) contaminated with E. coli O111. Twenty-three children were hospitalized, five children suffered long-term health consequences including transplants, and one child died. The victims sued Garibaldi in the Adelaide District Court for damages and for compensation from the company’s $10 million insurance package. Although most claims have settled, six remain unresolved. Two of the cases involve a disagreement about how much the settlement should be. The remaining four claims relate to children who got sick a month or two after the original cases and the insurance company is contesting damages claims because the strain they had differed slightly from the original victims. The case is adjourned until September.

The Oyster Case: Graham Barclay Oysters Pty Ltd v. Ryan (1996-7; decision 2003): A class action lawsuit was brought by consumers who had contracted Hepatitis A after eating oysters that were harvested in a New South Wales lake that was polluted by human fecal contamination. The applicants alleged that the grower of the oysters, the distributer, the local government authority, and the state government were all liable in negligence for the harm they suffered. The claimants also alleged that the distributers and growers were liable for breaching the Trade Practices Act 1974. The case made it all the way up to the High Court of Australia, which affirmed the appellate court’s finding that neither state nor local authorities owed a duty of care to the consumers. Also, the High Court found in accordance with the appellate court that the harvesting and distribution companies took reasonable care to ensure their oysters were safe, given the unreasonableness of the alternatives.

Cryptosporidium and Giardia parasites (1998): A three-month water supply contamination crisis affected Sydney and region following cases of illness caused by Cryptosporidium and Giardia parasites in some Sydney reservoirs. The final total estimated cost reported by Sydney Water Corporation was $75 million. A legal class action was taken by businesses for loss of business and one law firm reported that they took intake from a hundred individuals who believed they became sick as a result of the water contamination. All the claims have settled.

Dowdell v Knispel Fruit Juices Pty Ltd (2003): Between January and June, 1999 in South Australia, 507 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium phage type 135a (“ST 135a:”) infection seemed to be linked to the consumption of unpasteurized fruit juice sold by Nippy’s Fruit juices. The case became a class action lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia against the juicer, the grower and the packer. Negligence and breaches in statutory duty were the main issues argued. The main statutory breaches involved provisions in the Trade Practices Act 1975. A settlement scheme was also agreed to providing a structured regime for settling various claims, supported by the juice company, without admitting fault. Over 425 claims were settled with this scheme, and the remaining claims were settled by the judge. The court found that the Defendants were negligent and were strict liable under the statutory charges. The Judge divided up the liability between the various at-fault parties including the interpretation of the insurer’s responsibilities.

Contaminated Pork Rolls in Melbourne (2003): Victims suffered food poisoning from eating pork rolls from Melbourne’ s Thanh Phu restaurant, and was one of Victoria’s biggest food poisoning outbreaks. The Victorian Supreme Court approved the agreed settlement for more than 200 people, who received compensation payouts totaling around $1 million.

The KFC Villawood Twister Case (2005): Kentucky Fried Chicken is in a court battle with two parents who are seeking $10 million, claiming that their healthy seven-year-old daughter became crippled and brain damaged from salmonella after eating a “Chicken Twister” from a KFC in New South Wales. The latest argument made by the Plaintiffs is that a certain staff at the KFC would drop chicken pieces on the floor, help themselves to food and throw chicken strips at each other as pranks. KFC is denying any links between the “Twister” and the condition of the injured girl, and also argue that there is no proof of purchase (receipt) of the twister being purchased by the plaintiffs. Furthermore, KFC contends that the father of the plaintiff told a local health official that he blamed the poisoning on another source. On a side note, this case came only weeks after other Australian KFC branches (in Miranda and West Hurstville) were given a large fine of $73,125 and convicted of 11 charges of breaches of food hygiene laws. This case is still in court being argued.

As of February 27, 2018, 10 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Montevideo were reported from 3 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 20, 2017 to January 28, 2018. Ill people ranged in age from 26 to 56, with a median age of 42. All 10 (100%) were female. No hospitalizations and no deaths were reported.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Eight (80%) of ten people interviewed reported eating at multiple Jimmy John’s restaurant locations. Of these eight people, all eight (100%) reported eating raw sprouts on a sandwich from Jimmy John’s in Illinois and Wisconsin. Two ill people in Wisconsin ate at a single Jimmy John’s location in that state. One ill person reported eating raw sprouts purchased from a grocery store in Minnesota.

This outbreak appears to be over. Any contaminated sprouts that made people sick in this outbreak would now be older than their recommended shelf life. FDA and state, and local regulatory officials conducted traceback investigations to help determine the source of the sprouts and their distribution chain. To date, no contamination source has been identified.

Regardless of where they are served or sold, raw and lightly cooked sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness and outbreaks. People who choose to eat sprouts should cook them thoroughly to reduce the risk of illness.