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Food Safety News

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Man Sues Salami Maker, Pepper Producer

Harold Lee Hanks was so ill, weak, and disoriented by Jan. 23 after eating salami he purchased at his local Wal-Mart six days earlier that his wife demanded that he go to the emergency room.  Once there, Hanks learned he’d contracted a severe bacterial infection.

His local and state health officials later told the Lake Ozark, Missouri man that he had tested positive for Salmonella Montevideo, the very strain involved in the national outbreak associated Daniele Inc. and its pepper supplier, Wholesome Spice and Seasonings Inc.

Hanks has suffered from cramps and nausea, chills and fevers, and what his lawyers call “explosive bouts of diarrhea” that left him ill and weak for days.  Yesterday, however, Hanks struck back by filing a lawsuit against Rhode Island-based Daniele, and Brooklyn-based Wholesome Spice.

He is the second of the Salmonella Montevideo victims to sue.  Daniele recalled more than 1.25 million pounds of its Italian sausage salami after the Salmonella contamination was discovered.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta says the outbreak has sickened at least 207 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia.  Since many people who become ill do not seek medical treatment or do not provide “stool samples” if they do go to the doctor, the actual number of people sickened in this outbreak is probably much higher.

“The CDC is the first to say that only about three percent of Salmonella illnesses are ever culture-confirmed, so the real number of victims in this outbreak is in the thousands,” said nationally known food safety lawyer William Marler, who is part of the team of trial attorneys representing Hanks.  “Most people with Salmonella never know they have it, and try to ‘tough it out’ as a stomach flu, but Salmonella can get ugly, and it is important to visit a health care professional if you have consumed the recalled product or are experiencing symptoms of Salmonella infection.”

Marler is teamed up with attorney Roger Nail, who practices law in both Kansas and Missouri at the firm of Goza and Honnold.  They’ve filed the Hanks lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Camden County, Missouri.

The Hanks lawsuit lists four counts of action against the two food companies and demands a jury trial.  One count alleges violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, which is intended to protect consumers from injury.

© Food Safety News
  • jmunsell

    I’d like to know how readers of Food Safety News view the usefulness of irradiated spices. It is quite possible that if Daniele had purchased irradiated black peppers, hundreds or thousands of folks in 42 states would not have gotten ill.
    Please share with each other what you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of irradiated foods, and in this case, especially irradiated spices. My guess is that if we’d ask this question to everyone who has been sickened in this outbreak, they would quickly endorse irradiated black peppers.
    John Munsell

  • John Munsell

    I’d like to know how readers of Food Safety News view the usefulness of irradiated spices. It is quite possible that if Daniele had purchased irradiated black peppers, hundreds or thousands of folks in 42 states would not have gotten ill.
    Please share with each other what you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of irradiated foods, and in this case, especially irradiated spices. My guess is that if we’d ask this question to everyone who has been sickened in this outbreak, they would quickly endorse irradiated black peppers.
    John Munsell

  • LeaveMyFoodWholesome

    As a consumer, I’m opposed to my food being irradiated so producers can avoid explosive diarrhea lawsuits. I’ll opt for some tort reform, sanitary food, or using the Park Doctrine to deter the distribution of tainted foods first.
    You will ruin the protective action of black pepper in the diet by irradiating, and we will get more serious diseases down the road, and we won’t be able to sue anyone for damages then. We’ll just have huge medical bills for cancer treatments, or Fanconi kidney disease, or some autoimmune neurological disease like those cats and dogs that ate irradiated foods got. (And don’t bother telling me those were species specific responses. That is what they said when BSE was first found in cats. People are already known to get Fanconi’s from too much lysine and irradiation can increase available lysine in some foods, while decreasing the availability of other amino acids.)
    http://www.cababstractsplus.org/Abstracts/Abstract.aspx?AcNo=20043181925
    Title: Study of irradiated black pepper antioxidant activity changes.
    Personal Authors: Suhaj, M., Rácová, J.
    Author Affiliation: Food Research Institute, Bratislava, Slovakia.
    Editors: No editors
    Document Title: Czech Journal of Food Sciences
    Abstract:
    “Some antioxidant activities of extracts of irradiated black pepper (Piper nigrum) were evaluated. The ground black pepper was exposed to gamma-irradiation at doses from 5 to 30 kGy. The effect of irradiation on antioxidant properties of black pepper extracts was investigated by these methods: radical scavenging effect on 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radicals, determination of reducing power, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances assay and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (EPR). Irradiation resulted in a decrease of DPPH antiradical activity of black pepper extracts according to dose of irradiation. Reducing power was not changed by action of irradiation. Very important and sensitive differences in antioxidant activity of irradiated black pepper were investigated by EPR spectrometry and thiobarbituric acid method.”