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Another Lawsuit Filed in Salmonella Pine Nuts Outbreak

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Webster, NY woman and her child who say they were infected with Salmonella from contaminated pine nuts distributed by New Jersey-based importer Sunrise Commodities.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, the woman fell ill on Oct. 21, 2011, days after eating Turkish pine nuts purchased from a Wegmans Food Mart in Webster.

For 10 days she suffered with gastrointestinal symptoms. On Nov. 7 her child also became ill, and three days later had to be taken to an emergency room.

Lab testing later showed that the child tested positive for Salmonella.

The lawsuit alleges the Salmonella infection and related injuries suffered by the child were results of either consumption of pine nuts or exposure to the ailing mother, who like the child was also stricken with salmonellosis. 

The family is represented by the Seattle-based law firm Marler Clark, along with Rochester-based law firm Underberg & Kessler. This is the fourth lawsuit the law firms have filed against the pine nut importer.

“Many people don’t realize that foodborne infections can be passed from person to person,” said Marler Clark attorney Bill Marler, who also is the publisher of Food Safety News. “Nonetheless, a person infected with a pathogen like Salmonella or E. coli may pass it on to someone else; unfortunately it is usually someone very close and often a child.”

Forty-three people in five states were infected this year with Salmonella Enteritidis linked to contaminated Turkish pine nuts sold in bulk bins at Wegmans grocery stores. Lab tests detected the outbreak strain of Salmonella in 14 samples of pine nuts or pesto made from the pine nuts. Wegmans recalled about 5,000 pounds of the Turkish pine nuts on Oct. 26, and Badia Spices, which had repacked the product, recalled about 3,800 pounds on Nov. 4.

Sunrise Commodities recalled more than 21,000 pounds of the pine nuts on Nov. 3 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis in pine nuts at the distributor’s storage facilities. 

“I applaud the public health officials for making short work of their investigation,” said Underberg & Kessler attorney Paul Nunes, in a news release. “When an outbreak is so concisely pinpointed, it is comforting to grocery stores, consumers and the entire Rochester community to know our public health agencies are working efficiently to protect us by getting contaminated products off the shelves as quickly as possible.”

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