"I never buy this kind of peanut butter but we were short of funds over Christmas and I wanted to make this recipe; it was no-bake peanut butter cookies," says Rich. "If they had been baked, my 12-year-old son Greg and my husband would have been okay."
Greg started having terrible stomach cramps - he ate quite a few cookies. Meanwhile I was spraying the house with Lysol thinking that he was coming down with the flu; I was starting a new job and the last thing I needed was to get sick. Luckily I didn't eat any of the cookies - I'm not a big sweet eater. But these cookies were the guys' favorites. Thankfully l I didn't take them to my parents' house.
Greg missed the whole week of school prior to Christmas. He had diarrhea, vomiting and fever. But he didn't lose his appetite - Greg was still eating the cookies. Finally, he got so bad we took him to ER on December 29th. What a Christmas! At the hospital they also thought it was the flu; they said he must have a virus. The recall wasn't out yet so it didn't occur to us or them to test for salmonella. He was sent home and told to just wait it out.
But we took Greg back to the hospital on January 2nd; he so dehydrated they immediately put him on an IV. Once he was hydrated, they sent him home. His blood pressure was elevated which was surprising due to his age. We couldn't understand why he wasn't getting any better.
Around the beginning of February (he was better because all the cookies were gone) I saw the peanut butter recall on TV. At first I didn't think I had the specific recall number - I was looking at the UPC -- the bar code they scan for pricing at the store. About two weeks later my son happened to look at the lid and said it is the 2111 number that was recalled. 'Ohmigod, that's why you were so sick,' I said.
I went to Wal-Mart - where I purchased the peanut butter - and they agreed to reimburse me for the one jar which totalled a few dollars. Big deal! What am I going to do with these medical bills that total $2,300? Two trips to the ER and a follow-up with the pediatric doctor cost that amount. Wal-Mart gave me the number for ConAgra Foods - the makers of the peanut butter. They advised me to send them the lid and I would get reimbursed for one jar of peanut butter. I told them that they could pay my medical bills and I won't pursue it any further. Their response: get a note from the doctor stating that his symptoms could have been salmonella.
So my doctor sent the dried peanut butter from the lid to the lab for testing. We should be hearing back from the lab in the next few days. The hospital is also going through his medical records. Once we have these results, I am going to send the information and the bills to ConAgra. I also reported my son's illness to our local health department. I will also be contacting a lawyer."