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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Lawsuit on Behalf of California Woman Fatally Sickened by Salmonella Pepper

A Salmonella lawsuit will be filed this week on behalf of the daughter of a Huntington Beach woman who died in 2009 from a Salmonella infection contracted from tainted pepper. The lawsuit will be filed against U. F. Union International Food, which produced the spices as well as against the companies that sold and distributed them. The suit will be filed in the Superior Court for the State of California, County of Alameda.

In February 2009, Donna Pierce underwent a lobectomy (lung surgery) in Hayward, CA. The surgery went well and she was released after a 10-day recovery. While at the hospital, she consumed white pepper that was manufactured, sold, and distributed by U. F. Union International Food. Days after returning home she began to experience severe abdominal pain. She returned to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a Salmonella infection, and ultimately re-admitted. She succumbed to her infection on April 9, 2009. Her Salmonella infection was serotype rissen, a genetic match to the outbreak strain found in U. F. Union International Food white pepper.

The Union International Food outbreak sickened more than 79 people in Western states between December 2008 and April 2009; the majority of the illnesses were in California. Public health officials traced the outbreak to white pepper manufactured by Union International and sold under the brand names Uncle Chen and Lian How. Ultimately the company recalled more than 50 products, including spices, oils, and sauces, due to potential contamination with Salmonella.