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First Salmonella Spice Lawsuit Filed

May 6, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP What is believed to be the first lawsuit resulting from the multi-state Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled spices has been filed. The Associated Press (AP) reported that a California man who says he was poisoned by Salmonella after eating at a buffet-style restaurant in Reno, Nevada filed the lawsuit this week.

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 Union International Food Company (UIFC) for liability, negligence, and breach of warranty, said the AP. UIFC’s pepper products were linked to the multi-state outbreak following the discovery of Salmonella in food samples collected from restaurants and food distributors.

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.

The recall began in March with one spice manufactured by UIFC and has since been expanded a couple of times and recently included 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. To date, 60 illnesses have been reported in Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington State, with a number of patients requiring hospitalization.

According to California Department of Public Health spokesman, Al Lundeen, in a prior SF Gate article, the recent recall expansion included “Natural and Delicious” white pepper, black pepper, and curry powder spices labeled by CJ United Corporation. The spices were received from UIFC and sold in five-pound, clear plastic jugs and supplied to Bay Area restaurants.

The UIFC also recalled its Lian How brand dry spices, which are usually sold in bulk quantities to restaurants, said the SF Gate. The recalls included Uncle Chen black pepper (whole and ground), white pepper, and Wasabi powder; Uncle Chen products are sold at retail stores. Sauce and oil products manufactured under the Lian How and Uncle Chen brand names packaged in a variety of glass and plastic containers and containing the words “Packed by Union International Foods” or “Union International Foods” following the brand name, were also recalled, said CBS2 in an prior report.

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 in a report earlier this month that the recalled EDS Wrap and Roll frozen chicken egg rolls were sold to restaurants in California.

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