When you still can buy recalled product, that sickened dozens and nearly killed children, at Lucky’s Market on 200 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

Legal note:  It is against federal law for anyone to sell or resell recalled products in any setting, including yard sales and thrift shops.

Of course, this follows on Food Safety News reporting on September 5: “Earlier today, Amazon.com was still selling I.M. Healthy soy nut butter that was recalled in March when federal officials traced an E. coli outbreak to the product.”

And, for anyone who forgot the outbreak , the CDC reported on May 4, 2017, that thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 12 states. Arizona 4, California 5, Florida 2, Illinois 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Missouri 1, New Jersey 1, Oregon 11, Virginia 2, Washington 2 and Wisconsin 1. Twelve people were hospitalized. Nine people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. Twenty-six (81%) of the 32 ill people in this outbreak were younger than 18 years.

Epidemiological, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter was the likely source of this outbreak. Several soy nut products were recalled:

On March 7, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company recalled all varieties of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and all varieties of I.M. Healthy Granola products. On March 10, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company expanded its recall to include Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter.

On March 28, 2017, the FDA issued a Suspension of Food Facility Registration Order to Dixie Dew of Erlanger, Ky., after an inspection revealed insanitary conditions at the firm that could affect the safety of finished products. Dixie Dew is the contract manufacturer for SoyNut Butter Company’s soy nut butter products. The close out of the outbreak investigation does not affect the suspension order.

Dear readers, anyone else find this product for sale at grocery stores, online or other wise?

So, anyone else up at I.M. Healthy, FDA or the US Attorney’s office?

The CDPH Food and Drug Branch (FDB) and Sacramento County Environmental Management Department (SCEMD) recently investigated an outbreak of botulism linked to the consumption of ready to eat nacho cheese purchased at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, California. The nacho cheese was applied to chips by customers from a counter-top, self-service warming and dispensing unit supplied by the cheese manufacturer. These types of warming and dispensing units are typically designed to maintain the cheese at approximately 140 deg. F.

As of May 31, 2017, a total of 10 case-patients were laboratory-confirmed with C. botulinum toxin type A. All patients were hospitalized; nine were in an intensive care unit, seven required ventilator support, and one died. Leftover nacho cheese sauce collected from the gas station yielded C. botulinum toxin type A bacteria and toxin. Due to the extensive distribution of the same lot code of nacho cheese throughout the United States without additional botulism cases, internal testing conducted by the Wisconsin manufacturer of the nacho cheese, and only a single bag of cheese linked to human illness, FDB and SCEMD suspect the nacho cheese was likely contaminated at the retail location. A few items in particular were noted during the investigation that was concerning:

The 5 pound bag of nacho cheese collected at the retail location on May 5, 2017 was being used past the “Best By” date.

Records were not being maintained by the gas station employees indicating when the bag of nacho cheese was originally added to the warming unit.

The plastic tool designed to open the bags of cheese (provided with the nacho cheese warming and dispensing unit) was not being used by employees. 
FDB is aware that these types of nacho cheese warming and dispensing units are in use at many retail locations throughout California. These units generally provide safe, ready-to-eat foods without significant input from employees at each location. FDB would like to provide the following guidance regarding the use of nacho cheese warming and dispensing units in retail locations.

1.  Management and employees should follow the instructions for each type of machine and product they use. Instructions for use may be included on the packaging of the 
bagged nacho cheese or included on the interior panels of the warming and dispensing unit. These directions may include pre-heating and the length of time a product can remain at elevated holding temperatures. In some cases the product may only be held above 135 deg. F. for 4-6 days.

2.  Management should ensure that records are maintained indicating when bagged cheese was last changed. This may be accomplished by writing the date the product was added to the warmer on the bag itself.

3.  Management should ensure that the warming and dispensing units are not turned off at night or plugged into a timer. These types of machines need to remain “on” at all times. This will ensure that appropriate temperatures are maintained in this ready-to- eat food.

4.  Management and employees should ensure that any supplied tools for opening the bags of cheese are used per the product directions. These devices need to be washed, rinsed, and sanitized between uses. In some cases these opening tools are only supplied with warming and dispensing unit.

5.  Management and employees should verify on a regular basis that the internal temperature of the hot held cheese product is being held at the proper temperature. The internal temperature can be measured by placing the cheese product in a cup with a thermometer to verify the product is maintaining the minimum hot holding temperature of 135 deg. F as required under the California Retail Food Code Section 113996 or hot holding temperature as recommended by the manufacturer.

CDPH hopes this information can be shared widely to ensure retail food facilities have current information and are taking appropriate measures to keep our food supply safe. Thank you for your consideration and ongoing collaboration with our Department.

In March 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and several state health departments attributed a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 to I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter manufactured by Dixie Dew and sold at retail on online outlets.[1]

Outbreak investigators collected open containers of SoyNut Butter from the homes of sick people, and unopened containers from retail locations. Containers of SoyNut Butter from lots #243162 and 244161 tested positive for E. coli. Whole genome sequencing revealed that the same strain of E. coli was found in clinical isolates from sick people and containers of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter. Epidemiologic investigation determined that 32 people ill with this strain of E. coli had been infected by eating or attending a facility that served I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter. This included residents of Arizona (4), California (5), Florida (2), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (11), Virginia (2), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (1).

The damage caused by this outbreak has been considerable. Twelve people were hospitalized due to their infection, and nine developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a debilitating condition caused by E. coli that is commonly characterized by kidney failure, but may also lead to brain damage, seizures, and diabetes. Children less than 10 years of age are particularly at risk for developing HUS.

I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter has been recalled, but given its long shelf life, it may still be in some people’s homes. This product, therefore, may continue to pose a threat to people’s health.  Several online retailers continued to sell the recalled product at least well into August 2017.

It is not as if in 2017, contaminated nut butters should not have been an issue for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers.

In November 2006, public health officials detected a substantial increase in reports of Salmonella Tennessee isolates. In February 2007, a multistate, case-control study linked the consumption of either Peter Pan or Great Value Peanut Butter brands with infection[2]. 715 people were sickened with 129 hospitalized.  Subsequently the same strain of Salmonella Tennessee was isolated from unopened jars of peanut butter and from environmental samples collected from the processing plant. The product was recalled, and new illness reports declined. Unsanitary conditions at the Sylvester, Georgia, processing plant were known about since 2004. On April 5, 2007, ConAgra announced inadvertent moisture from a leaking roof and sprinkler system could have promoted bacteria growth in the plant. Great Value brand was sold at Walmart stores.[3]

Beginning in November 2008, CDC PulseNet staff noted a small and highly dispersed, multistate cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium isolates. The outbreak consisted of two pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) defined clusters of illness. The first cluster displayed a unique primary enzyme (XbaI) restriction pattern and an uncommon secondary enzyme (BlnI) pattern. The second cluster had two closely related XbaI patterns that were very similar to the first cluster and a BlnI pattern that was indistinguishable from the first cluster. Illnesses continued to be revealed through April 2009, when the last CDC report on the outbreak was published. A total of 714 were sickened, with 171 hospitalized and at least nine deaths. Peanut butter and peanut butter containing products produced by the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Georgia, were implicated. King Nut brand peanut butter was sold to institutional settings. Peanut paste was sold to many food companies for use as an ingredient. Implicated peanut products were sold widely throughout the USA, 23 countries and non-U.S. territories.[4]

On September 22, 2012, the CDC announced a multistate outbreak of Salmonella serotype Bredeney linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter. Collaborative efforts by local, state and federal public health and regulatory officials traced the product to Sunland, Inc. a Portales, New Mexico company. Sunland issued a recall of multiple nut butters and products made with nut butters. When the outbreak was declared over, a total of 42 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype Bredeney had been reported by 20 states. Among persons for whom information was available, illness onset dates ranged from June 14, 2012 to September 21, 2012. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 79 years, with a median age of 7 years. Sixty-one percent of ill persons were children less than 10 years old. Among 36 persons with available information, 10(28%) patients had been hospitalized. The FDA confirmed that environmental samples collected at the Sunland facility had an DNA fingerprint that was indistinguishable to the DNA fingerprint found in outbreak associated patients.[5]

On August 21, 2014, the CDC announced a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup involving 6 people residing in Connecticut (1), Iowa (1), New Mexico (1), Tennessee (1), and Texas (2). Almond and peanut butter manufactured by nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. was named as the likely source of this outbreak. The outbreak was declared over on October 16, 2014. Illness onset dates range from January 22, 2014 to May 16, 2014. Among 5 ill persons with available information, one person reported being hospitalized. During inspections at the nSpired Natural Food facility in Ashland, Oregon, between January 2014 and August 2014, the FDA isolated Salmonella Braenderup from environmental samples. A search of the PulseNet database linked ill patients to the environmental isolates taken from the nSpired production plant. On August 19, 2014 nSpired Natural Foods issued a voluntary recall of certain lots of almond and peanut butters because of potential contamination with Salmonella. The recalled brands include Arrowhead Mills, MaraNatha, and specific private label almond and peanut butters.[6]

On December 2, 2015 JEM Raw Chocolate LLC (JEM Raw) of Bend, Oregon announced a recall of its full line of all nut butter spreads due to possible contamination with Salmonella. Health authorities at the FDA, Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the CDC had linked illnesses in 13 persons who consumed nut spreads. Dates of onset ranged from July 18, 2015 to November 22, 2015. Cases were reported from California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey and Oregon.[7]

Dixie Dew and I.M. Healthly, and the entire supply chain, should have been aware of these outbreaks and taken precautions.

[1]           https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2017/o157h7-03-17/index.html

[2]           A 1996 Salmonella Mbandaka outbreak linked to peanut butter sickened at least 15 in Australia – Aust N Z J Public Health 1998 Scheil

[3]           https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5621a1.htm

[4]           https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm58e0129a1.htm

[5]           https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/bredeney-09-12/

[6]           https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/braenderup-08-14/

[7]           https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/paratyphi-b-12-15/

Food Safety News just reported that

Earlier today, Amazon.com was still selling I.M. Healthy soy nut butter that was recalled in March when federal officials traced an E. coli outbreak to the product.

No one from Seattle-based Amazon immediately responded to mid-morning requests for comment from Food Safety News, but by 11 a.m. Pacific time, the recalled peanut butter substitute had been pulled from the retailer’s website.

Officials with the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the situation, but were not able to provide details as of mid-afternoon.

Although the outbreak was declared over in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that agency’s “final” report indicated additional illnesses were expected to be confirmed in relation to consumption of recalled soy nut butter products. The CDC cited the products’ long shelf life and the likelihood that some consumers still have unopened product in their homes as contributing factors to the lingering nature of the outbreak.

As of early May, the outbreak had sickened a confirmed 32 people across a dozen states. A variety of products made with soy nut butter produced by Dixie Dew Products Inc. remain under recall, including all varieties of I.M. Healthy “SoyNut Butter” products.

As of 9:45 a.m. Pacific time today, recalled I.M. Healthy brand “SoyNut Butter” was still available for purchase.

It is against federal law for anyone to sell or resell recalled products in any setting, including yard sales and thrift shops. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which became law in 2008, was used earlier this year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission against Home Depot. The big box home improvement retailer agreed to pay $5.7 million in relation to charges it sold recalled smoke detectors, light fixtures and other products.

The Amazon.com website does not appear to offer a list of recalled products that it has offered for sale, as do many retailers. Amazon provides a list of government recall links and a “recall policy” that includes the following statement:

“Amazon monitors public recalls alert websites and also learns of recalls directly from manufacturers and vendors. When we learn of a recall, we suspend all impacted product offerings from our website and quarantine any related inventory in our fulfillment centers. We also reach out to any customers that previously purchased impacted products (and any seller that may have offered such products) to inform them about the recall.”

Linda Harris, chair of the world renown Food Science and Technology Department at the University of California-Davis, said Monday that she ordered recalled I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter from Amazon.com during Labor Day weekend. She received the $50 shipment of three jars of the recalled product in less than 24 hours.

“The story really is about recalls and the ability in today’s world of recovering all product when you have a recall,” said Harris, who is the immediate past president of the International Association for Food Protection.

“They have sophisticated programs that set prices and figure out complicated delivery schemes – they should be able to make sure recalled product isn’t available for sale.”

Federal inmate Stewart Parnell, the former chief executive and part owner of the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America, is the featured subject of a new episode of CNBC’s “American Greed.”  The episode premieres at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT on Monday, July 3.

Stewart, 63, is serving a 28-year prison sentence for knowingly shipping peanut products contaminated with Salmonella, leading to thousands of illnesses and nine deaths in a foodborne illness outbreak that resulted in the largest food recall in U.S. history.

“American Greed” is narrated by stage, screen and television actor Stacy Keach, best known for his portrayal of detective Mike Hammer and for his Golden Globe-winning depiction of Ernest Hemingway.

Producers of the true crime series have worked for many months on the Parnell episode.    It features on-camera interviews with such food safety advocates as attorney Bill Marler, Northeastern University food policy expert Darin Detwiler, and whistleblower Kenneth Kendrick.

“American Greed” took up the story of the deadly 2008-09 outbreak that killed nine people because Parnell knew Peanut Corporation of America peanut butter and peanut paste was contaminated with Salmonella before it was shipped.

The TV series has focused on what it calls “stories from the dark side of the American Dream” to discover how far some people will go for financial wealth, “no matter the cost to themselves and those around them.” It has looked at all sorts of real-life cases. Many involve criminal activity, including credit card scams, identity theft, counterfeiting and Ponzi schemes.

Before the Salmonella outbreak was discovered in late 2008, Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) facilities in three states were managed by Parnell from a spacious residence just outside of Lynchburg, VA. When required, Parnell piloted his private plane to the state’s with company facilities.

In 2014 jury trial, Stewart Parnell was convicted on 67 federal felony counts and his brother Michael Parnell was convicted on 29. Both received prison sentences.

Three other PCA executives and managers were also convicted and sentenced to prison time.

CNBC has provided this promotional link:

Next On | American Greed: From Peanuts To Sick Millions | American GreedIt’s one of the biggest food poisoning outbreaks in U.S. history: Peanut Corporation of America CEO Stewart Parnell ships peanut products tainted with salmonella – killing nine, sickening thousands.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 5.11.16 PMBeing in New Zealand, some 17 hours and a day ahead of the U.S. Midwest, should have given me a slight advantage of knowing what was happening in the U.S., but I missed a call from AP’s David Pitt for a comment on a court ruling that is making food executives take notice.

As David wrote, the U.S. Supreme Court declined in May to hear the appeals of Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, without comment. Both have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett to serve three months in prison. The sentences jarred the food and drug manufacturing industry because it’s rare that corporate officials are held personally responsible for an outbreak of foodborne illness.

Bennett in his 68-page sentencing opinion filed in April 2015 concluded that prison time was necessary to deter officials from marketing unsafe food.

“Given the defendants’ careless oversight and repeated violations of safety standards, there is an increased likelihood that these offenses, or offenses like these, could happen again,” he wrote. “The punishment will also serve to effectively deter against the marketing of unsafe foods and widespread harm to public health by similarly situated corporate officials and other executives in the industry.”

Last week Bennett ordered 53-year-old Peter DeCoster to report to the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota, a minimum security facility that is about 200 miles west of his home in Clarion, Iowa. DeCoster must surrender himself to authorities after July 30 when he is notified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons the facility is ready to receive him.

His 83-year-old father Austin “Jack” DeCoster must serve his three-month term 30 days after Peter is released. He must report to the Federal Correctional Institution in Berlin, New Hampshire, a location Bennett approved at DeCoster’s request. DeCoster, who says he has several medical issues including prostate cancer, has moved from Iowa to Maine and the medium-security prison camp is about 70 miles from his home.

The DeCosters, who have already paid $100,000 each in criminal penalties, also owe $83,000 in restitution, according to court documents. Quality Egg paid a $6.8 million fine after pleading guilty to felony charges of shipping eggs with false processing and expiration dates and bribing a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve sales of poor-quality eggs.

PrisonI can hear a bit of silence in the board rooms of America.

Monday the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, without comment.  In April 2015 U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett sentenced the DeCosters to prison, saying they knew or should have known about the risks posed by the presence of Salmonella in and around millions of egg-laying hens. However, he allowed the DeCosters to stay free while they appealed the sentences, which they argued were unconstitutional and unreasonably harsh. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentences last July and stayed any action until the U.S. Supreme Court appeal was resolved.

Now the DeCosters will now both face three month jail sentences stemming from a Salmonella outbreak caused by their Iowa egg farms in 2010.

The Salmonella outbreak ran from May 1 to Nov. 30, 2010, and prompted the recall of more than a half-billion shell eggs, the largest recall of its kind in history. And, while there were 1,939 confirmed infections, statistical models used to account for Salmonella illnesses in the U.S. suggest that the eggs may have sickened more than 62,000 people.

The family business, known as Quality Egg LLC, had already pleaded guilty to the federal felony count of bribing a USDA egg inspector and to two misdemeanors associated with the outbreak. It agreed that the LLC will pay a $6.8-million fine and the DeCosters would be fined $100,000 each, for a total of $7 million.

I am not sure if the Supreme Court read Bill Neuman’s New York Times article from September 2010 entitled, “An Iowa Egg Farmer and a History of Salmonella.” However, he should. Here are some of the highlights/lowlights:

  • DeCoster’s frequent run-ins with regulators over labor, environmental and immigrationviolations have been well cataloged. But the close connections between DeCoster’s egg empire and the spread of Salmonella in the United States have received far less scrutiny.
  • Farms tied to DeCoster were a primary source of Salmonella enteritidisin the U.S. in the 1980s, when some of the first major outbreaks of human illness from the bacteria in eggs occurred, according to health officials and public records. At one point, New York and Maryland regulators believed DeCoster eggs were such a threat that they banned sales of the eggs in their states. “When we were in the thick of it, the name that came up again and again was DeCoster Egg Farms,” said Paul A. Blake, who was head of the Enteric Diseases Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the 1980s, when investigators began to tackle the emerging problem of Salmonella and eggs.
  • Records released by Congressional investigatorslast week suggest that tougher oversight of Mr. DeCoster’s Iowa operations might have prevented the outbreak, which federal officials say is the largest of its type in the nation’s history, with more than 1,600 reported illnesses and probably tens of thousands more that have gone unreported.
  • According to the records, Mr. DeCoster’s farms in Iowa conducted tests from 2008 to 2010 that repeatedly showed strong indicators of possible toxic salmonella contamination in his barns. Such environmental contamination does not always spread to the eggs, and it is unclear what actions Mr. DeCoster took in response. However, when the Food and Drug Administrationinspected the farms after the recalls, officials found unsanitary conditions and the presence of Salmonella enteritidis in barns and feed.
  • The first enteritidis outbreak recognized by public health officials came in July 1982, when about three dozen people fell ill and one person died at the Edgewood Manor nursing home in Portsmouth, N.H. Investigators concluded that runny scrambled eggs served at a Saturday breakfast were to blame. They traced the eggs to what the Centers for Disease Control reports referred to as a large producer in Maine; interviews with investigators confirmed that it was Mr. DeCoster’s former operation.  Eggs from the same farms were also suspected in a simultaneous outbreak that sickened some 400 people in Massachusetts.
  • In 1987, the deadly outbreak at Coler Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island occurred. Investigators determined that mayonnaise made from raw eggs had caused the outbreak. They traced the eggs to Mr. DeCoster’s Maryland farms. On a July night in 1987, scores of elderly and chronically ill patients at Bird S. Coler Memorial Hospital in New York City began to fall violently sick with food poisoningfrom eggs tainted with salmonella.  “It was like a war zone,” said Dr. Philippe Tassy, the doctor on call as the sickness started to rage through the hospital. By the time the outbreak ended more than two weeks later, nine people had died and about 500 people had become sick. It remains the deadliest outbreak in this country attributed to eggs infected with the bacteria known as Salmonella enteritidis.
  • After two more outbreaks were linked to DeCoster eggs the following year, New York banned Mr. DeCoster from selling eggs in the state. He was forced to agree to a rigorous program of salmonella testing on his farms in Maine and Maryland.  Michael Opitz, a poultry expert retired from the University of Maine, said that the testing found that a Maine breeder flock owned by Mr. DeCoster was infected, meaning that hens there could be passing the bacteria to their chicks, which might grow up to lay tainted eggs. Widespread contamination was also found in laying barns.
  • In 1991, tests revealed more salmonella contamination at one of Mr. DeCoster’s farms in Maryland. The state quarantined the eggs, allowing them to be sold only to a plant where they could be pasteurized to kill bacteria. Mr. DeCoster challenged the order and a federal judge ruled that Maryland could not block him from shipping eggs to other states. He was still barred from selling the eggs in Maryland, and in 1992, a state judge found that he had violated the quarantine by selling eggs to a local store; Mr. DeCoster was given a suspended sentence of probation and a token fine.
  • Soon after interstate shipments resumed in 1992, eggs from the Maryland farm caused a salmonella outbreak in Connecticut, according to a 1992 memo from the Maryland attorney general’s office. Federal regulators insisted that Mr. DeCoster decontaminate his barns.  Dr. Roger Olson, the former state veterinarian of Maryland, said that Mr. DeCoster complained about the cost of testing and the quarantine and insisted there was little risk associated with his eggs.

And, then there was 2010.  I think Jack and Peter need some time away to think about this.

The botulism outbreak was reported to have come from nacho cheese sauce sold at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station in Walnut Grove.

37-year-old Martin Galindo from Antioch also died in a hospital in San Francisco on Thursday night after contracting what his family said is a rare case of botulism. ABC7 News reported on Friday that Martin Galindo contracted botulism from nacho cheese bought at the gas station and was being treated in San Francisco.

Inspection reports for the Valley Oaks Food and Fuel station show that on May 6 and 7, officers impounded bags of Montecito nacho cheese tortilla chips and closed the facility. On May 8, health officers from the state Department of Health impounded four bags of Gehls cheese sauce and reopened the store to sell prepackaged food items only.

Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.

Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below for symptoms specific to infant botulism.

Botulism neurotoxins prevent neurotransmitters from functioning properly. This means that they inhibit motor control. As botulism progresses, the patient experiences paralysis from top to bottom, starting with the eyes and face and moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When paralysis reaches the chest, death from inability to breathe results unless the patient is ventilated. Symptoms of botulism generally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.  With treatment, illness lasts from 1 to 10 days.  Full recovery from botulism poisoning can take weeks to months.  Some people never fully recover.

In general, symptoms of botulism poisoning include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Dry skin, mouth and throat
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Body Aches
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of fever

If found early, botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This prevents the patient’s case from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks.

On victim, Lavinia Kelly, who is turning 33 today, was driving home from work as an inventory manager on April 21 when she pulled over at the gas station’s small market for a snack. She picked up a bag of Doritos chips and drizzled them with nacho-cheese sauce, said her partner, Ricky Torres.

Within hours, the usually upbeat mother of three felt fatigued, he said. The next morning she complained of double vision and went to Sutter Medical Center, but was sent home hours later. By that evening, she was vomiting and having difficulty breathing, Torres said. He drove her back to the emergency room.

The next day, doctors ventilated Kelly and admitted her to the intensive care unit, where she’s been since. The neurotoxins have affected her motor control to the point that she can’t open her eyes, Torres said. When Kelly wants to see who has entered the room, he and other loved ones lift her eyelids open, sometimes using tape to keep them up.

According to the lawsuit we filed yesterday, Lavinia Kelly remains partially paralyzed and on a ventilator as her family and friends wonder whether this will be her last birthday. She had no way of knowing when she stopped for a snack of chips and cheese sauce on the way home from work on April 21 that she would be admitted to an intensive care unit less than 48 hours later.

“She has remained in intensive care ever since, unable to move much, speak, breathe on her own, or open her eyes. Family members must pull her eyelids up to enable her to see at all,” according to the civil lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California in Sacramento County.

“Lavinia Kelly experiences significant pain all over her body constantly. She is receiving methadone and Neurontin for pain control. (Her) medical condition is poor, and her prognosis uncertain.”

Botulism, which can be fatal can be caused by eating foods that have been contaminated with botulinum toxin, often homemade items that have been improperly canned, preserved, or fermented, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Symptoms can include double vision, slurred speech and muscle weakness. If left untreated, botulism can cause paralysis of the respiratory and other muscles.

Thirty-two people infected with the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 were reported from 12 states. Arizona 4, California 5, Florida 2, Illinois 1, Massachusetts 1, Maryland 1, Missouri 1, New Jersey 1, Oregon 11, Virginia 2, Washington 2 and Wisconsin 1. Twelve people were hospitalized. Nine people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths were reported. Twenty-six (81%) of the 32 ill people in this outbreak were younger than 18 years. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback evidence indicated that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter was the likely source of this outbreak. Several soy nut products were recalled:

  • On March 7, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company recalled all varieties of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and all varieties of I.M. Healthy Granola products.
  • On March 10, 2017, The SoyNut Butter Company expanded its recall to include Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter.
  • On March 24, 2017, Pro Sports Club recalled 20/20 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars because they contain a recalled ingredient.
  • On March 28, 2017, the FDA issued a Suspension of Food Facility Registration Order to Dixie Dew of Erlanger, Ky., after an inspection revealed insanitary conditions at the firm that could affect the safety of finished products. Dixie Dew is the contract manufacturer for SoyNut Butter Company’s soy nut butter products. The close out of the outbreak investigation does not affect the suspension order.