A Minnesota woman who says she was sickened by Salmonella-tainted cucumbers is suing the San Diego-based produce company which imported and distributed them.
Marler Clark, the Seattle-based food safety law firm, has filed a lawsuit against Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce Inc. on behalf Kathleen R. Dvergsten, a resident of Farmington, MN. (Marler Clark underwrites Food Safety News.)
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, is the first one related to the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella traced back to cucumbers imported and distributed by Andrew & Williamson, a corporation headquartered in California. To date, 285 people from 27 states have become sickened with Salmonella from these cucumbers. Twelve victims are from Minnesota, and one death has been reported in California.
Dvergsten says she became ill with Salmonella after eating cucumbers imported from Mexico by the defendant and served at a Red Lobster restaurant in Maplewood, MN.
The day after her meal, on Aug. 12, Dvergsten was seen and treated by her doctor for symptoms consistent with the stomach flu. She was sent home to deal with what she thought was a common illness.
Over the next several days, however, Dvergsten’s symptoms worsened to include severe cramping, vomiting, and near constant diarrhea. On Aug. 14, she was transported by ambulance to Northfield Hospital, where she was admitted. During her stay in the hospital, she was tested for Salmonella and was culture positive for the cucumber-related outbreak strain of Salmonella Poona.
She remained in the hospital for almost a week and then was transferred to Farmington Trinity Care Center for rehabilitation. Dvergsten was able to return home on Aug. 28, but is still dealing with the after-effects of her illness.
On Sept. 4, 2015, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce voluntarily recalled all cucumbers believed to be contaminated with Salmonella. All were grown and packed in Mexico.
“While it’s good there’s a recall now underway, it didn’t come nearly soon enough,” said Bill Marler, food safety advocate and managing partner at Marler Clark. “One person has died eating what is usually a healthy food and hundreds have been sickened so far. As these cucumbers were sold to restaurants and home cooks, it’s possible the number of illnesses will rise.”
“And,” he added, “This is far from the first time the cucumbers have been tied to foodborne illnesses and deaths.”
Within just the past three years, there have been three major outbreaks tied to Salmonella-tainted cucumbers that have left 644 sick and two people dead. In addition to this most recent outbreak, 275 in 29 states were sickened and one person died from an outbreak of Salmonella Newport in 2014. The previous year, 84 people from 18 states became ill from Salmonella Saintpaul traced to cucumbers from a Mexican supplier.
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