Salmonella Death Prompts Lawsuit Against Spice Producer

Last year, we followed a series of recalls that began in March and that involved Union International Food Company (UIFC) pepper. Now, Mercury News is writing that the family of one woman who died from Salmonellosis, the infection caused by the <"">Salmonella pathogen, is suing the spice manufacturer.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Alameda County Superior Court, is against U.F. Union International Food and the companies that sold its products, said Mercury News. Last year, UIFC recalled its Lian How and Uncle Chen spice brands, which were linked to a multi-state outbreak following the discovery of Salmonella in food samples collected from restaurants and food distributors. The FDA said that the recall was the result of testing conducted on a shipment of peppers purchased around September 2008 and which revealed that the finished products contained the Salmonella bacteria.

Also last year, what was believed to be the first lawsuit resulting from the multi-state Salmonella spice recall that was expanded in April, was filed. The Associated Press (AP) reported previously that a California man said he was poisoned by Salmonella after eating at a buffet-style restaurant in Reno, Nevada. The AP reported that, according to the victim, he became ill after eating food contaminated with the tainted spices served by the restaurant. The lawsuit blames UIFC for liability, negligence, and breach of warranty, said the AP.

This new lawsuit alleges that Donna Pierce, 69, contracted the infection after consuming contaminated white pepper when she was in the hospital in February 2009 following lung surgery, said Mercury News. Pierce died on April 9. The outbreak caused scores of illnesses in California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State. A number of patients required hospitalization.

The recall began in March with one spice manufactured by UIFC and was expanded a couple of times, ultimately including a number of spices and over 50 sauces and oils. According to a prior CBS2 report, the California Department of Public Health said the food products were manufactured at a contaminated facility.

Some food manufacturers also had to issue recalls as a result of the contaminated spices. For example, EDS Wrap and Roll Foods LLC was forced to recall over six tons of its chicken egg rolls because the egg rolls contained black pepper spice likely linked to the recalled spice products made by UIFC. Banned Foods said that the recalled EDS Wrap and Roll frozen chicken egg rolls were sold to restaurants in California.

Salmonella can cause serious, sometimes fatal Salmonellosis infections in young children; weak or elderly people; and those with weakened immune systems, such as patients undergoing chemotherapy or diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Healthy people may experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, if infected. Without treatment, severe cases of Salmonella poisoning can result in arterial infections—such as infected aneurysms—endocarditis, arthritis, and death; however, some Salmonella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, largely due to the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of feed animals.

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