Lynne Terry of The Oregonian keeps following the Peanut Butter Trail. Here are excerpts from an article she just posted online:
Earlier this month, a Wilsonville boy put a face on the salmonella outbreak that has sickened scores nationwide. Three-year-old Jacob Hurley sat, wearing a big-knotted tie in an angry congressional subcommittee meeting, as his father, Peter Hurley, testified about his son’s illness. Jacob was sick for 11 days with severe symptoms of salmonella infection after munching on his favorite comfort food — peanut butter crackers.
"There’s no question that eating that product is what caused him to become ill," said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who is representing the Hurleys. Lab tests confirmed that Jacob had the same salmonella strain as in the nationwide outbreak, prompting Oregon health authorities to visit the family and test some of their leftover packages of Austin Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter. The crackers tested positive for salmonella typhimurium, said William Keene, senior epidemiologist with the state Public Health Division.
Marler said Kellogg bears responsibility, too. "Big-name brands like Kellogg have an enormous responsibility to monitor where they’re getting their product and how that product is being manufactured," he said. "The public doesn’t know whether it’s made in China or a rat-infested or bird-infested plant in Blakely, Georgia. They’re buying a Kellogg product."
Marler, an expert in food poisoning litigation, expects the Hurley case to go to a jury trial. Although Jacob has recovered, his parents are trying to make a point, he said. "For the Hurleys, like a lot of people who wind up litigating cases, it’s less about what went on with their kid," Marler said. "It’s more that they’re upset with the system that would allow something like this to happen."