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By MarcWites

Recalls of Produce Based on Concerns of Listeria Contamination Grow

By now most people have heard that cantaloupes from Colorado were recalled in September due to their contamination with the Listeria bacteria.  On Wednesday October 12, 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced that the supermarket chain Giant Eagle was recalling its name brand, Farmer’s Market Shredded Iceberg Lettuce due to potential listeria contamination.  A random FDA check of some of the lettuce bags revealed Listeria.  The lettuce was produced by River Ranch Fresh Foods LLC of Salinas, Calif.  In addition, last week True Leaf Farms in Salinas voluntarily recalled Romaine lettuce because of listeria contamination concerns in 19 states.

Listeria Can Cause Fatal Food Poisoning

When we hear “food poisoning,” we frequently think of Salmonella or E.Coli bacteria in contaminated food.  In fact, a week ago Commercial Meat Co. in Los Angelesrecalled more than 188 tons of ground beef because of possible contamination with the E.Coli bacterium.  Those bacteria usually result in the sudden onset of frequently debilitating symptoms within a relatively short period after consumption.

Listeria can also cause food poisoning serious enough to result in death – at least 23 so far from the tainted cantaloupes.  Although, according to the CDC, the risk of developing Listeriosis from consuming contaminated products is relatively small, itaffects those who already are among the most vulnerable: primarily persons of advanced age, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.   Approximately 20-30% of Listeriosis cases result in death, making it one of the leading causes of food poisoning deaths in this country.

One notable difference between Listeria and other forms of food poisoning is that it can take up to two months before symptoms of some strains show.  Most other bacteria that cause food poisoning strike their victims in hours, and usually under 2 days.  Listeria is also unusual because it will continue to grow and multiply even in the cold temperature of a refrigerator.  The CDC’s website recommends that “[i]f you develop fever and chills while pregnant or if you are very sick with fever and muscle aches or stiff neck, consult your doctor immediately. A blood or spinal fluid test (to look for the bacteria) will show if you have listeriosis.”

The Products Recalled by Giant Eagle

According to the FDA Press Release, the recalled Farmer’s Market products include:  The packaged product affected is Giant Eagle Farmer’s Market Shredded Iceberg Lettuce (UPC 3003430195). Additionally, the shredded iceberg lettuce was used in a small number of prepared deli ring sandwiches. The affected deli ring sandwiches include: Giant Eagle Large Italian Sandwich Ring (UPC 23755100000), Giant Eagle Mini Italian Sandwich Ring (UPC 24755500000), Giant Eagle Large New York Sandwich Ring (UPC 22755100000), Giant Eagle Mini New York Sandwich Ring (UPC 25755500000), Giant Eagle Large All America Sandwich Ring (UPC 21755100000), and Giant Eagle Mini All American Sandwich Ring (UPC 26755500000).

Legal Recourse for Listeria Poisoning

Listeria can cause debilitating – and even deadly – food poisoning.  If you or a family member has been affected, you may be able to pursue litigation against the companies involved with the manufacture or distribution of the food that made you sick, including compensation for lost wages as well as pain and suffering.   An attorney with experience in food-borne illness cases can help you determine whether you have a claim worth pursuing.

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Marc A. Wites

Marc A. Wites is the founding shareholder of Wites & Rogers. He directs the firm’s litigation practice groups for personal injury and wrongful death cases, class actions, property insurance claims, sexual assault, and investment fraud.

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