LAW FIRMS PREPARE FOR SALMONELLA (FOOD POISONING) LAWSUITS
by Lawrence C. Melton, Esq.
THE HAYES LAW FIRM, P.C., 1235 North Loop West, Suite 510, Houston, Texas 77008. www.dhayeslaw.com, Tel:713-862-2152, or 1-866-332-3567, toll free
Look in your freezer. If you see any frozen pot pies, discard them immediately. There is a strong chance they are tainted with Salmonella. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has linked at least 174 cases of Salmonella in 32 states to frozen pot pies produced by ConAgra Foods Inc. These are very common product that are available at almost every major grocery store nationwide. They come in two categories: (1) Banquet Pot Pies and (2) generic grocery store brand pot pies. Both types are manufactured by ConAgra. The product labels to be wary of are as follows:
- Banquet Pot Pies (sold at all major grocery dealers)
- Hill Country Fare (sold at HEB)
- Food Lion (sold at Food Lion)
- Albertson's (sold at Albertson's)
- Great Value (sold at Wal-Mart)
- Kirkwood (sold at Aldi)
- Kroger (sold at Kroger)
- Meijer (sold at Meijer)
- Western Family (now discontinued; previously sold at a variety of small retailers).
The contamination pertains to frozen chicken, turkey and beef pot pie products. Specifically, the affected products are sold in 7 oz. single serving packages bearing an establishment number "P-9" or "Est. 1059". (Investigation of Outbreak of Human Infections Caused by Salmonella, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, October 15, 2007) https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/4512eyeminus.html
WHAT IS SALMONELLA?
Salmonella, commonly referred to as food poisoning, is a bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of animals. Salmonella is transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces.
The symptoms of Salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramping, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and, in some instances, death. Generally, the symptoms last four to seven days.
Each year, about 40,000 cases of Salmonella are reported in the U.S. But the Center for Disease Control estimates that the number of actual cases is 30 times higher. This is because mild cases go unreported. The severe cases involve people with weaker immune systems such as the elderly or the very young. There are about 600 deaths from Salmonella each year. (Josh Funk, Critics: ConAgra Mishandled Recall, Associated Press, October 15, 2007)https://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iOShDbpIsxytLbqShbc9l8FmfMEwD8S974VG0
The frozen pot pies manufactured by ConAgra have been linked to 174 cases of food poisoning in 32 states. There have been at least 33 people hospitalized. So far there have been no fatalities.
On October 9, 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warned consumers to avoid eating turkey and chicken varieties of Banquet pot pies as well as store brand pot pies manufactured by ConAgra Foods. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_044_2007_Release/index.asp
Later that day, October 9, 2007, ConAgra Foods issued its own announcement warning consumers not to eat these products. But ConAgra waited another two days before issuing an official recall of the products on October 11, 2007. The delay is curious, and will not help their defense should litigation arise from these matters.
ConAgra Food faces potential liability on two fronts: (1) negligent manufacturing of the product and (2) negligent delay in recalling the product.
The tainted products were manufactured at a ConAgra Food facility in Missouri. There were probably unsanitary conditions at the plant which allowed the product to be contaminated with animal feces. On that front, ConAgra was negligent. They have a duty to supervise their manufacturing plants and provide sanitary conditions.
This is not the first time ConAgra Food has faced accusation of this nature. Earlier this year, in February 2007, ConAgra was forced to recall its Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter. The peanut butter was the cause of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened some 600 people in 47 states. In that instance the unsanitary conditions were at their Georgia manufacturing plant.
With respect to the infected frozen pot pies, ConAgra aggravated the circumstances by delaying its recall of the obviously tainted product. To say that the recall was too late is a gross understatement. The Salmonella epidemic had already sickened more that 165 people in 31 states by the time they announced the official recall. Who knows how many more people suffered illnesses due to the delay?
So why did ConAgra wait two extra days before recalling the product? One possibility is money. A Citigroup analyst has said the Banquet chicken and turkey pot pie business generated about $100 million in sales a year for ConAgra. (Josh Funk, Critics: ConAgra Mishandled Recall, Associated Press, October 15, 2007). The recall would obviously cost the company money. No doubt they had lost a lot of money from the recall of Peter Pan Peanut Butter earlier that year.
The company may have performed some sort of cost-benefit analysis, weighing the financial hit it would take from product recall against the health concerns of its customers. There is one thing, though, that they did not adequately consider. The lawsuits they will face will most likely cost them more money than they would have lost from initiating an earlier recall of the contaminated product.
The Hayes Law Firm is an experienced litigation and arbitration law firm that represents victimized consumers and investors all the across the country. Please visit the web page at www.dhayeslaw.com. Free initial consultation is available by calling 713-862-2152, or calling toll free at 1-866-332-3567.
REFUNDS FROM CONAGRA FOODS
Consumers who want a refund should save the side panel of the pot pie package which should have the UPC code written on it. You can then send the side the panel to ConAgra Foods, Dept. BQPP, P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103-0768. HOWEVER, IF YOU INTEND TO BRING A LAW SUIT YOU WILL WANT TO KEEP AND PRESERVE THE EMPTY BOX. IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT BRINGING A LAW SUIT DO NOT SEND THE EMPTY BOX, OR ANY PART THEREOF, BACK TO CONAGRA!!!
Missouri Firm Recalls Frozen Pot Pie Products For Possible Salmonella Contamination, Unites States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, October 11, 2007. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_044_2007_Release/index.asp
Josh Funk, Critics: ConAgra Mishandled Recall, Associated Press, October 15, 2007. https://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iOShDbpIsxytLbqShbc9l8FmfMEwD8S974VG0
Investigation of Outbreak of Human Infections Caused by Salmonella, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, October 15, 2007 https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/4512eyeminus.html
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