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Cargill Sued for Salmonella Illness Tied to Ground Turkey

Another lawsuit has been filed against Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. in the wake of the company’s 36 million pound ground turkey recall, the largest Class I meat recall on record.

Missouri residents Susanne and Jerry Byerly are seeking some justice after Susanne was linked to the recent multi-drug resistant Salmonella turkey outbreak, which has been tied to at least 111 illnesses in 31 states. In a lawsuit filed this week by Marler Clark, a Seattle-based food safety law firm (and publisher of Food Safety News), the Byerly’s are seeking punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Susanne became ill with Salmonella Heidelberg infections after consuming contaminated turkey between February 20 and August 2, 2011. The ground turkey was part of a family meal: spaghetti with ground turkey. Not long after the meal, Susanne felt fatigued, a few days later her conditioned worsened and she was briefly hospitalized.

The lawsuit alleges that Cargill was aware that Salmonella Heidelberg had been detected at its Springdale, Arkansas plant “as far back as 2010, if not as early as 2007” and that the company “failed to alert consumers of the potential danger, issue a recall of products that it knew to be contaminated, or reasonably act to prevent consumers of its products from becoming infected and sickened by Salmonella Heidelberg.”

“We are asking the Court to award punitive damages in this case because Cargill failed to act on the knowledge that its products were contaminated,” said attorney Bill Marler, who has filed several lawsuits against food giant Cargill. “Obviously, lawsuits alone are not enough to get Cargill to produce a safe product.  It’s time FSIS declared Salmonella an adulterant in ground meat products and made companies issue recalls of product that tests positive for this contaminant.”

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Missouri.  

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