Beginning in late March of 2018, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began receiving reports from various state health departments around the country of a type of food poisoning caused by contamination of a popular breakfast cereal with a type of bacteria known as Salmonella. As of Thursday, July 12th, the CDC reported that it had received confirmation of 100 unique cases of Salmonella in 33 states.
In today's post, the defective consumer products lawyer at the Doan Law Firm explains the symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning, how Salmonella contamination could have occurred, and the options that may be available to those who became ill after eating food that was contaminated by Salmonella bacteria.
What is Salmonella food poisoning?
Food poisoning occurs when some of the food products we eat are contaminated by bacteria and these bacteria are not rendered harmless when the food is cooked or prepared. In the case under discussion here, the bacteria that is responsible for the illness is known as Salmonella.
The symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning are almost always related to the gastrointestinal tract and can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and dehydration. Since these same symptoms can occur with other illnesses, special lab tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of Salmonella food poisoning.
Salmonella food poisoning, although unpleasant, is usually managed by preventing dehydration with fluid replacement and the use of anti-nausea/anti-diarrhea medication. Like other infections, Salmonella can be dangerous to the very young, and elderly, segments of the population as well as those with compromised immune systems. It is this subset of patients that will have the slowest response to treatment.
How has the current outbreak developed?
The CDC does not have the resources to investigate every report of a food-borne illness. Instead, it monitors reports that are sent in by the various state health departments. Using sophisticated statistical techniques, it is then able to allocate its resources more efficiently. Based on published information, the current outbreak was managed along the following timeline.
Late March to Mid-May, 2018The CDC began receiving reports of possible food-borne illnesses involving the Salmonella microbe. After further investigation, it was determined that the source of these infections was most likely a contaminated breakfast cereal, Kellogg Honey Smacks. This information was then relayed to both the cereal's manufacturer and to the appropriate federal agencies.
June 14, 2018
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that the Kellogg Company had issued a "voluntary recall" of its 15.3 oz. and 23 oz. packages of Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal because these products are assumed to have been contaminated by the potential presence of Salmonella bacteria. See "Kellogg Company Voluntarily Recalls Honey Smacks Cereal Due to Possible Health Risk" for a more detailed explanation of this recall.
July 12, 2018
In the first significant update since that of June 14th, the CDC added 27 confirmed cases from 19 states for a total of 100 cases since the outbreak began. Two more states, Florida and Colorado, were also added to the list of states with confirmed cases of Salmonella. As of this update, there have been 30 hospitalizations that have been linked to Salmonella-contaminated Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal but no deaths have been reported.
Who was responsible for the Salmonella outbreak?
As far as personal injury law is concerned, Kellogg is responsible for any and all consequences of the Salmonella outbreak because it was a Kellogg product that was eventually identified as the source of the infections.
In a press release , Kellogg defended itself by noting that it did not manufacture Honey Smacks but relied on an unnamed "third party" to produce the cereal which was then placed in Kellogg boxes and marketed under the Kellogg brand name.
I developed Salmonella food poisoning, what are my legal options?
Generally, if you were injured by a defective consumer product (in the current case, Kellogg Honey Smacks), you can file a lawsuit against the product's manufacturer (Kellogg). There are, however, certain limitations regarding whocan file such lawsuits.
In order to file a personal injury lawsuit you 1) must have suffered an injury, and 2) your injury must have been caused by the negligence of another. Let's take a closer look at these requirements.
As to #1 you, or some family member, must have suffered an injury. In the case of Kellogg's Honey Smacks, the injury would be to have developed Salmonella food poisoning. The notion that you could have been injured is never enough to justify a personal injury lawsuit. Assuming that you, or a family member, did suffer a Salmonella injury, we can move on to #2.
Personal injury law presumes that everyone, from large corporations to your next-door neighbor, will act in a way that will not cause harm to another. If someone fails to act in such a manner, either unintentionally or deliberately, that someone may have been negligent and can be sued by an injured party to recover the costs of damages suffered by the injured party. In the case of Kellogg's Honey Smacks, the fact that Salmonella bacteria were found in the finished product could be taken as proof of negligence.
Contacting a defective consumer product lawyer
In this post we have presented, using Kellogg's Honey Smacks as an example, the basics of what is known as a defective consumer product lawsuit. To successfully bring a defective product lawsuit against a large corporation, you will need to hire a lawyer with experience in a number of areas such as:
- investigating the unique facts of a given case
- determining who was at fault during a product's production
- arranging for expert witnesses that will testify on your behalf
- negotiating with large corporations and/or their insurance carriers
- finding a lawyer who puts the client's best interests first
One such lawyer is the defective consumer product lawyer at the Doan Law Firm, a nationwide personal injury and defective consumer product law practice with offices located throughout the country.
When you contact the defective consumer product lawyer at the Doan Law Firm to arrange a free, no obligation review of your potential Kellogg's Honey Smacks Salmonella lawsuit, your first consultation with our firm is exactly that: free of any charges to you and does not obligate you to hiring us as your legal counsel. Should you later decide that our firm should manage your lawsuit, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a previously agreed-upon percentage of the final verdict or settlement that we will win for you.