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Food Safety News

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Publisher’s Platform: Have I Got a Country for You

It was reported this week that Daxing District People’s Court of China has jailed Zhao Lianhai again for disturbing the social order.  Following the tainted-milk scandal in 2008, Zhao Lianhai was convicted and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Zhao’s four-year-old son became sick after consuming milk laced with melamine, which is used in plastics and fertilizer production.

In 2008, melamine-tainted milk was blamed for the deaths of six infants and the sickening of hundreds of thousands in China.  Zhao organized a website, “Kidney Stone Babies,” and established a support group, furnishing information and resources to parents whose children were sickened or killed by the melamine-poisoned milk. For that Zhao was jailed, but gained early release after he reportedly promised to stop his public information campaign.

 

Putting aside jailing lawyers for a moment, what are your thoughts on jailing these folks or their surviving families, or denying them access to the courts for compensation for their injuries or deaths?

Charles Palmer consumed Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in mid-August. He had purchased one whole cantaloupe at the Wal-Mart store located on Razorback Road in Colorado Springs several days before. He fell ill on Aug. 30 with symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria infection, including headache and fatigue. The next morning, Mr. Palmer’s wife found him unresponsive and immediately rushed her husband to the hospital, where he has remained ever since.

 

Herbert Stevens and his wife purchased Jensen Farms-grown Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from a Littleton grocery store in early August. On Aug. 24, 84-year-old Mr. Stevens fell ill with symptoms of listeriosis and became incapacitated. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he tested positive for the outbreak strain of Listeria. Mr. Stevens remained hospitalized until he was transferred to a long-term care facility. It is not clear if he will be able to return home.

Juanita Gomez consumed cantaloupe purchased from a local grocery store in early August. By Aug. 20, Mrs. Gomez became ill and developed a fever. When her symptoms progressed, she was taken to the hospital where her temperature measured 105.6 degrees F, her eyes became glassy, and she was unable to respond to simple questions.  Mrs. Gomez was released from the hospital on Aug. 24 and continues to recover at home.

William T. Beach consumed cantaloupe produced and distributed by Jensen Farms and Frontera Produce in early August. Mr. Beach subsequently fell and on or about Aug. 28 was taken to the hospital by ambulance after his wife, Monette, found him collapsed on the living room floor, unable to speak or breathe normally. Mr. Beach was discharged from the hospital two days later, but his condition worsened and he was again rushed to the hospital, where he died after a failed intubation procedure.

 

Clarence Wells consumed cantaloupe on multiple occasions before becoming ill with symptoms of Listeria infection, including fluid retention, on Aug. 23, 2011. By Aug. 25, Mr. Wells had gained 9 pounds and had begun having difficulty breathing. He was taken to the emergency room, and was admitted to John’s Hopkins Medical Center later that day. On the morning of Aug. 31, his condition deteriorated and his family was called to the hospital, where they found him unconscious. They never spoke to him, or saw him awake, again. Mr. Wells died the evening of Aug. 31, 2011.

Doyle Underwood, 68, of Smithville, OK consumed cantaloupe on multiple occasions in August 2011. By Sept. 2, he had begun to develop symptoms of a Listeria infection including fatigue, muscle aches, and mental status changes. For the next three days Mr. Underwood’s condition continued to worsen until he was hospitalized with listeriosis on Sept. 5.  He was released nearly a month later, on Oct. 3.

Paul Schwarz, 92,  of Kansas City consumed cantaloupe produced by Jensen Farms multiple times in the month of August. On Sept. 15 he was treated and released from the hospital after experiencing symptoms of Listeria infection, including abdominal pain. His condition worsened, and Mr. Schwarz was readmitted to the hospital on Sept. 19, where he tested positive for Listeria. Mr. Schwarz remains in the hospital.

Marie Jones, 89, regularly purchased and consumed cantaloupe in the weeks prior to her illness. By the weekend of Sept. 10, Ms. Jones developed signs of a Listeria infection, including a severe headache and gastrointestinal symptoms, which worsened over the ensuing days. Late on Sept. 12, she was admitted to Baylor University Medical Center and transferred to the intensive care unit, where it was determined that her illness was caused by a Listeria infection and was affecting her entire body. Over the next 10 days Ms. Jones’ condition worsened until she ultimately succumbed on Sept. 23.

 

Damn, consumers, lawsuits and lawyers!  I bet you are ready to take that first boat to Shanghai or the first plane to Beijing.

© Food Safety News
  • Danae in MD

    This article is on the verge of making a point….I want to understand, but I don’t quite get it. Was it really late at night when you wrote this?

  • Grandstanding… Hate is a very strong word Bill.
    Perhaps I should sue the airline my mom rode to England from Florida on. She had a stroke and succumbed 6 weeks later. She was 87. The stroke happened three days after getting off the plane. I suspect blood clotting in her legs from inactivity during the flight from being restricted in a space too small for the human body for too many hours. I would love to have a million dollars to compensate me for the loss of my mom.
    My question to you is why didn’t these people get better care in hospital? Most of the cases you are quoting have an average time under doctor’s care of almost two weeks. What has all this got to do with the price of tea in China…
    The point is we learn, we evolve, we change our way of doing things. I doubt anyone at Jenson Farms had even the first thought about this possiblity as they went about the work of selling these ‘lopes to Walmart at a price barely enough to pay the bills.
    I am for the small farmer who struggles daily just to keep his head above water. As I read the other day on this site, they are going to be forced into bankruptcy.. along with Frontera. I don’t hate you and what you stand for…. shocked and dismayed, terrified it could happen to us despite our best efforts to produce safe and sanitary food, angry, dejected, feel like quitting the business… those are all emotions that come to mind as I read this.
    Now Whole Foods has rejected an order of spinach AFTER is was ordered from us and delivered… all because we don’t have a HACCP plan copy in their files. We have been selling our baby spinach to this particular store for the past 8 years with no problems whatsoever. In fact it is greenhouse grown.. without manure of any kind. We got no notice of this decision before we picked and shipped. The spillover from this unfortunate mishap will just about insure that small farms and farmers cease to compete with big ag. They can just change the name and continue business as usual should this happen to them. Corporations avoid personal liability. That might be a worse situation than what happens in China. China be damned.