Pittsburgh, PA: More and more lawsuits are piling up in the aftermath of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter. So far, one class action suit and numerous individual suits have already been filed, with more expected to be announced.
One lawsuit, filed February 21 in Pennsylvania, claims that contaminated peanut butter killed one woman and made her husband seriously ill. According to the lawsuit, the family purchased four jars of peanut butter in November. In January, the woman ate some of the peanut butter and became violently sick before dying on January 30. The lawsuit claims that the victims ate peanut butter with the now-recalled "2111" code on the packaging.
Earlier this week a class action lawsuit was filed in Washington State seeking to represent people who ate contaminated peanut butter and became ill. This lawsuit will represent people who were sick but not hospitalized, while more serious cases involving hospitalization will be filed separately. The law firm that filed the suit says that it has been contacted by over 2,200 families who were affected by the salmonella outbreak.
A lawsuit was also filed in Texas claiming that two young children became sick after eating the peanut butter. Another lawsuit was filed in Kansas claiming that two children required medical attention after developing gastrointestinal illnesses from eating Great Value Peanut Butter. Yet another individual lawsuit was filed in Illinois claiming that eating peanut butter made the plaintiff's family sick.
ConAgra Foods announced a voluntary recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter earlier this month after they were linked to an outbreak of salmonella that had affected at least 280 people in 39 states. The outbreak has been traced to a factory in Sylvester, Georgia. It is not yet known how salmonella got into the peanut butter.
The Food and Drug Administration made its own announcement on February 16, saying that all Peter Pan peanut butter purchased since May, 2006, should be thrown out. The organization also said that any Great Value peanut butter with the code "2111" that was purchased since May, 2006, should be discarded as well.
Peter Pan peanut butter is produced by ConAgra Foods. Great Value is made for Wal-Mart but is produced in the same facility as Peter Pan peanut butter and therefore may also be contaminated. Great Value peanut butter that is made in other facilities by other manufacturers is not included in the recall.
Salmonella infections are generally associated with raw meat, poultry, dairy products, seafood, and salad dressings. Infections generally affect 40,000 people in the United States a year. Of those 40,000 reported cases around 600 die each year. People with weakened immune systems, children, and senior citizens are at the highest risk of dying from salmonella infection.
Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting. If you have eaten peanut butter and have experienced any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.