Lawsuit Filed Over Tainted Pine Nuts

A lawsuit has been filed over tainted <"">Turkish pine nuts that have led to 42 illnesses in a number of states. Now, a student from St. John Fisher College is suing the American Pistachio Corporation (which does business as Sunrise Commodities, based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey), said WHEC/News10.

Sean McGuirk, 20, said that this August he consumed a pasta dish made with pine nuts; he fell ill and was diagnosed with a Salmonella illness so severe he was hospitalized for three days, said WHEC/News10. McGuirk was advised by health officials that his illness was due to his having eaten contaminated pine nuts; he was also told the Salmonella strain that sickened him is a genetic match to the outbreak’s Salmonella Enteritidis strain, said lawsuit documents. The documents noted that, although released from the hospital two months ago, McGuirk has not yet made a full recovery.

According to the lawsuit, McGuirk’s mother purchased “Grade A Pine Nuts-Product of Turkey” at a Wegmans grocery store. “It was debilitating,” McGuirk said, wrote Democrat and Chronicle.

We just wrote that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer warning against eating Turkish pine nuts distributed by Sunrise Commodities after agency tests confirmed the presence of Salmonella on the Turkish pine nuts. The FDA is collaborating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State public health and agriculture officials on the multi-state outbreak.

Sunrise Commodities issued a recall notification to its customers dated November 3, 2011, alerting them of the test results and of the epidemiologic investigation and asking them to notify their subsequent customers of the recall. This week, the FDA announced a Sunrise Commodity recall for 21,000 pounds of Turkish pine nuts.

Wegmans Food Markets, one of the companies that received Sunrise Commodities Turkish pine nuts, issued a recall on October 26, 2011 for 5,000 pounds of the product sold in the bulk foods departments in most of its New York stores. On November 4, the FDA announced that Badia Spices of Miami, Florida, also recalled 3,800 pounds of Sunrise Commodities’ bulk Turkish pine nuts, said Democrat and Chronicle.

The lawsuit claims that American Pistachio was strictly liable for the contaminated product and was negligent for not using reasonable care in the manufacture, distribution, and sale of the Turkish Pine Nuts and also violated federal, state, and/or local food safety regulations, wrote Democrat and Chronicle.

The most common symptoms of salmonellosis—Salmonella infection—are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever with symptoms manifesting within six to 72 hours. Other symptoms include chills, headache, nausea, and vomiting that can last up to seven days. The illness usually lasts four to seven days; however, in some, the organism can invade the bloodstream, becoming so severe that hospitalization is needed. Sometimes, infection can result in, and produce more severe or chronic illnesses; can leave sufferers with serious life-long health issues; and can be especially life threatening to those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or who are undergoing chemotherapy. In some cases, the infection can be fatal.

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