June 2007

As of June 28, 52 persons infected with Salmonella Wandsworth have been reported to CDC from 17 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.

California (seven cases), Colorado (five cases), Connecticut (one case), Georgia (one case), Indiana (one case), Massachusetts (three

See my earlier post on Veggie Booty

This warning is based on 52 reports of illness (may be as high as 55) across 17 states, beginning in March 2007. Almost all the illnesses have occurred in children under 10 years old, with the most cases in toddlers. Most persons had reported bloody diarrhea; four were hospitalized.

States reporting illnesses include: California (seven cases), Colorado (five cases), Connecticut (one case), Georgia (one case), Indiana (one case), Massachusetts (three cases), Minnesota (two cases), New Hampshire (two cases), New Jersey (two cases), New York (13 cases), Oregon (one case), Pennsylvania (three cases), Tennessee (one), Texas (one), Vermont (three cases), Washington (four cases), and Wisconsin (two cases).

In the last 15 years, I have done several thousand Salmonella-related cases.  Here are the symptoms to watch out for:

* Diarrhea, particularly bloody diarrhea
* Abdominal cramps
* Fever

Symptoms typically begin within one to four days after exposure to the bacteria. In infants, persons with poor underlying health and those with weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

Some additional interesting news:

Tom Incantalupo of News Day had an interesting take on the recent recall:

Veggie Booty snack recalled for possible salmonella

Robert’s American Gourmet Food was in the news earlier this month when company president Robert Ehrlich claimed in a lawsuit that Sea Cliff village officials have been harassing him over a coffee bar and restaurant he runs because he is Jewish. Village officials denied the charges, and a federal jury ruled against him.

Tom Perrotta of the New York Law Journal wrote on February 7, 2006:

Court Rejects Class Settlement and Attorney Fees in Suit Over Nutrition Data

A $3.5 million class action settlement — and $790,000 in attorney fees — over snack foods that were found to have more fat than advertised has been thrown out by a state appeals court in Brooklyn. The Appellate Division, 2nd Department’s ruling in Klein v. Robert’s American Gourmet Food, Inc., 2003-00553, found that the trial judge who approved the settlement did not adequately consider the relevant factors in certifying a class over Pirate’s Booty snacks, created by Robert’s American Gourmet Food, Inc., and manufactured by Keystone Food Products. It remanded the case for further consideration.

I must tell you – given the legal track record of the company, one wonders at the legal strategy they will use after poisoning 52 children under the age of 10 – good luck.  Also, you must see Robert Ehrlich on: "The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on YouTube
You can Google "Robert Ehrlich Booty" too. 

We have been contacted by over a dozen families and we are continuing to investigate claims.  Several of the parents reported frustration because they thought they were serving their kids a "healthy" snack.  The fact that we had some in our own house really drives home the point that food safety has to be important to all of us.  I found this video of a baby eating booty on YouTube.

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Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer for Land Line Magazine and I spoke this week:

What do E. coli attorney Bill Marler and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have in common in the ongoing debate over food safety?

After last September’s E. coli outbreak traced back to California bagged spinach, Marler and OOIDA both came to the same conclusion – that the federal food safety system must be overhauled to prevent future food-related outbreaks.

Marler is currently represents 93 consumers who were sickened or died after eating E. coli-contaminated bagged spinach, and OOIDA became involved in the debate after several of its members were left “holding the bag” when pallets of contaminated spinach were left on their trucks.

Marler and OOIDA have both testified on the need for federal mandatory recall authority be given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which currently counts on companies to “do the right thing” if problems are reported with their product.

Both agree the produce industry should not be allowed to regulate itself and have been following the ongoing investigation into the E. coli outbreak closely.

After more than 200 were sickened and three died after eating bagged spinach, federal investigators were called in and searched farms in three counties and two factories in California, including plants run by Growers Express LLC in Salinas and Natural Selections LLC in San Juan Bautista.

So when the announcement was made last week that the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco was not pursuing criminal charges against growers and processors involved in last fall’s nationwide E. coli outbreak, and that investigators did not find that growers and processors “had deliberately skirted the law or were negligent in preventing tainted food from entering the marketplace,” neither Marler nor OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Specialist Joe Rajkovacz were surprised.

“In 14 years of doing these types of cases I really can count on one hand how many times a food company has ever been subjected to any sort of criminal sanction – it just never happens,” Marler said. “That’s not to say that it shouldn’t happen – it just doesn’t.”

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All lots and sizes of “Veggie Booty” Snack Food are being recalled following a report of as many as 55 cases of Salmonella poisoning associated with consuming the product.  It is Salmonella Wandsworth – very rare serotype – March 1 – June 11 onsets.  “Veggie Booty” Snack Food is sold in supermarkets, health food stores,

I spoke with Stephen J. Hedges, Chicago Tribune, last week about the alarming number of beef recalls and human illnesses over the last months.  His full report is here:

Food recalls related to ground beef and E. coli bacteria have reached levels not seen in several years, according to food safety experts, sickening 14 people