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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

350 calls and emails today

We received nearly 350 calls and emails today from people sickened by the above product.  We are filing suit against Con Agra in the morning.

In my spare time I penned the following Op-ed with my friend Paul Nunes:

Produce processors need to clean up their act
By PAUL V. NUNES and WILLIAM MARLER

2/15/2007

In 1906, Upton Sinclair penned his great American novel “The Jungle” about the corrupt meat packing industry. Dead rats were ground into sausage while bribed inspectors looked the other way.
One hundred years later, the American Meat Institute can boast that since 1999, the incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef samples tested by the Agriculture Department has declined by 80 percent to a fraction of a percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that E. coli outbreaks linked to tainted meat have declined by 42 percent.

How did this change happen? The Food Safety and Inspection Service in the mid-1990s – when undercooked hamburgers from Jack in the Box sickened 650 and killed four children – announced to the institute, “We consider raw ground beef that is contaminated with E. coli . . . to be adulterated.”

The Inspection Service mandated that meat processors adopt precautions such as carcass washes, citric acid sprays, steam pasteurization and air-
exchange systems. The U.S. meat industry now staffs in-house microbiologists or contracts with outside labs to test for contaminants.

Today, the apparent greater risk to the public is not meat, but produce. As many as 150 people across the Northeast and upper Midwest became ill after eating contaminated lettuce at fast-food restaurants. Many landed in hospitals.

A few months ago, 200 people got sick and at least four died from eating contaminated spinach. Three similar outbreaks occurred since 2002.

The Food and Drug Administration reported 21 E. coli outbreaks related to fresh leafy produce in the last 10 years with nearly 1,000 sickened. Many victims of the Taco Bell E. coli outbreak were residents of upstate New York.

To prevent future outbreaks, we need to follow the example of the Inspection Service and Meat Institute, and serve notice to produce processors that E. coli will no longer be tolerated in fresh produce.

Moreover, Congress should conduct hearings to consider:

Production of an E. coli vaccine for cattle.

Irradiation for all mass-produced foods, including produce.

Updating our food safety regulations (given post 9/11 risks).

State and/or federal authority to order product recalls.

Establishment of a single federal agency responsible for all food safety.

Clarification of state agencies’ role in the network of defense against food-borne illnesses.

Better funding for state health departments.

Better treatment for victims of E. coli.

Taking these steps will help prevent people from being sickened by eating what is supposed to be good for them.

  • donna hurley

    My husband,Cody, who has numerous physical problems, heart condition, diabetes, high blood pressure, polycythemia and two recent surgeries for colon and esphogeal cancer has been ill for the past month with nausea, diareha and chills, which we thought were flu symptoms. Upon learning of the peanut butter recall, I checked and sure enough the jar that he had been eating from (he has a peanut butter sandwich for lunch nearly every day) was branded 2111. I do not like peanut butter so never had the symptoms. As I had just purchased groceries that afternoon I also checked the new jar and even though the new jar had a different expiration date, it too had the 2111 batch number. I am just thankful that my husband, with all of his other medical problems, did not end up in the hospital or worse. Where are the food inspectors who are supposed to be watching over the processing of these products? I have saved both jars and plan to contact our local health department.

  • Nathan Cromwell

    I bought a jar of peterpan peanut butter in Jan of 2007 and it is now feb 16th 2007 and have been sick everyday I have had stomach cramps and fevers and diarreah since Jan 18th 2007 till today and still have the symptons and also have High Blood pressure and had 2 strokes and am only 28 yrs old and I am never going to buy peterpan peanut butter again and wanna be a part of this lawsuit I think Conagra Foods and Walmart should pay

  • K Phillips

    I have talked with several people that have purchased and said they had some of the symptoms. You will have to excuse me because I am not sure how the legal system works in this regard. But If people contact you that have suffered symptoms can there be some sort of collective suit??? How does that work??? I will tell the people that I know to contact you. Thanks

  • Richard K Edmund

    My 10 year old daughter has in the last four months had to miss school for what I thought was a “bug”. It was strange that she seemed to keep getting the vomitting and diarhea and no one else in the home got the “bug”. We assumed she was getting the virus from school. She had it three times within a couple weeks of each other. After hearing of the outbreak of salmonella in the Peter Pan Peanut Butter, I am convinced it was that causing her illnesses. She was the only one eating the jar of peanut butter we now have that has the number on the jar 21115180000256A that was good until Dec. 2006. It was during the months of October, and Nov. 2006 that she was sick. We would like to speak with someone from your firm regarding this matter or is there someone you need to refer me to? I live in Longs, SC which is just outside of Myrtle Beach,SC. I can be reached at 843-902-2581.
    Ken Edmund

  • Jenotte

    My son ate 2 sanwiches with peter pan peanut butter on the 21st of feb 07 the doctor diagnosed him with campylobacter with all the same signs and symptoms as salmonella and I belive 100% it was from the peanut butter because niether of my other 2 children or my wife got sick and he was the only one that ate the peanut butter before we got a email saying it my be contaminated

  • Jenotte

    My son ate 2 sanwiches with peter pan peanut butter on the 21st of feb 07 the doctor diagnosed him with campylobacter with all the same signs and symptoms as salmonella and I belive 100% it was from the peanut butter because niether of my other 2 children or my wife got sick and he was the only one that ate the peanut butter before we got a email saying it my be contaminated

  • Carl

    I have been ill for weeks with vomiting, headache, (went to the Dr. twice)diarhea. I did not realize until my wife told me of the Peanut butter (peter pan) outbreak that we connected everything and our jars were the ones with the 2111 numbers. I have severe (on-going-have had surgery) back problems which all of this vomiting now has caused me severe pain and I have missed 2 wks work (Also has gastric tests done. Are we able to file & get help with all of this? We are in KY

  • mattie

    I ate several sandwichesmade with peterpan peanut butter and I ate a hamburger that same day I got serve stomach cramps I thoughth it was the hambuger that made me ill . I know know it was the peanutbutter that had my stomach cramping and I through up. I have three jar of the recall peanut butter 21116233002254A Me and my son had some he threw upa aswell well.I dont know what to do or how to proceed should i send the lid in tothe company or send the jars in to be tested we ate out of the one jar the other two have not been open Help!