According to news outlet WGNTV.com, the United States Food and Drug Administration has announced that it is investigating claims of food contamination in Del Monte brand veggie trays.
The affected vegetable trays included an assortment of cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, and dill dip. They were sold in three states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Del Monte has also recalled vegetable trays that were sold in Indiana and Illinois.
The Del Monte veggie trays have been contaminated with Cyclospora, the FDA has said. Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite that sometimes contaminates water or food. When consumers ingest this microscopic parasite, they may develop severe symptoms, including nausea, bloating, stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.
The vegetable trays impacted by the parasite include both 6- and 12-ounce trays that were sold in Kwik Star and Kwik Trip retailers in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. Del Monte 28-ounce vegetable trays that were sold in Indiana and Illinois were also recalled. In addition to Kwik Trip and Kwik Star, the contaminated vegetable trays were sold at Foodmax Supermarket, Peapod, Demond’s, Potash, Sentry, Meehan’s, and Country Market. June 17, 2018, is listed as the items’ “best if enjoyed by” date.
It often takes several days, or even a few weeks, for the parasite to contaminate another person after it has been passed in fecal matter. Direct contamination between individuals is not likely.
The symptoms of cyclosporiasis, which is the name of the illness associated with Cyclospora cayetanensis, may be present for a few days or for more than a month. Many individuals have their symptoms come and go multiple times throughout the course of their illnesses. Though heating or cooking food kills most contaminants, it is unlikely that produce trays would be heated before consuming. The presence of Cyclospora usually cannot be eliminated merely by washing produce. Consumers who purchased the Del Monte veggie trays have been advised to throw them away immediately.
What other foods have been contaminated with Cyclospora?
According to the FDA, other types of produce have also been contaminated with the parasite in the past. These items include:
- Mesclun lettuce
- Snow peas
Restaurant employees should do the following to reduce the risk of Cyclospora contamination:
- Wash and disinfect refrigerators and display cases that may have contained contaminated food
- Wash and disinfect all food preparation surfaces, cooking utensils, cutting boards, and other items that were used to store, serve, or prepare contaminated food items
- Wash hands after completing the cleaning and disinfecting process
For consumers, the following practices will help reduce the risk of contracting a foodborne illness:
- Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds after handling food items
- Wiping up spilled liquids in the refrigerator as soon as they occur, and cleaning the refrigerator often
- Washing the inside shelves and walls of a refrigerator, as well as countertops and cutting boards, and then disinfecting with a bleach and water solution
- Washing hands after cleaning and sanitizing refrigerators and food preparation surfaces
These practices will help consumers avoid serious illnesses caused by parasites and other food contaminants.
Liability for food contamination
Product manufacturers include those that produce food items, have a duty to provide goods that are safe for consumption to consumers. If they breach this duty, they may face liability in a products liability lawsuit.
These lawsuits follow a strict liability model—that means that the consumer does not have to prove that the manufacturer was actually negligent to prevail in a claim. The consumer must demonstrate:
- The consumer was using the item as directed or as anticipated by the manufacturer
- The item was defective
- The consumer was harmed
- The defective product directly caused the consumer’s harm
A consumer must prove all of these elements to prevail in a products liability claim. If one of the factors cannot be proven, the claim will fail and will be dismissed from court. If a dismissal is granted, the consumer becomes wholly responsible for any medical bills and other financial losses he or she has endured.
The Types of Product Defects
There are only three types of product defects that may be examined while preparing a product liability lawsuit:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Marketing defects
Design defects stem from an issue in the planning or design of the product. If the packaging method for the veggie trays described above increased the risk of contamination, the issue would be a design defect.
Manufacturing defects may occur at any point in the production of the product until it lands in the hands of the consumer. Again, using the veggie tray example, if the veggie trays were shipped on a truck that had not been properly sanitized, the issue would be a manufacturing defect, because it occurred during transport.
Finally, marketing defects occur when the manufacturer does not provide proper warnings or instructions with a product. For example, consider how dangerous it could be if a food manufacturer inadvertently failed to print an expiration date on its products.
More than one defect may be identified in a single product, of course.
What type of compensation may I be eligible for?
If you succeed in your products liability claim, you may be eligible for several types of compensation, depending on the individual circumstances in your claim. These types of compensation include:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of future medical care
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- If a death has occurred, funeral and burial expenses may be claimed. In addition, the deceased’s estimated future earnings may also be claimed.
Your attorney will help you identify all of the types of damages that may be claimed in your case and will present evidence that supports these claims for damages.
Do I really need an attorney for a products liability claim?
Products liability claims are exceedingly complex. They involve highly detailed legal questions, and they also require an advanced understanding of how pathogens and injuries impact the human body. Products liability attorneys understand what must be proven in these claims and how to prove it. In addition, products liability attorneys have a network of experts they may consult with to determine how a product was defective and how that defect injured a claimant, two of the most essential elements in a products liability claim.
Products liability claims involve a number of deadlines as well. There are deadlines to submit the initial paperwork, and there are deadlines by which motions and other types of relief may be requested. If these deadlines are missed, it could be detrimental to the claim.
Additionally, injured consumers should be able to focus on their health and recovery after being harmed. They should not also have to bear the burden of pursuing a complicated legal claim against a manufacturer.
If a product has injured you, call Parker Waichman LLP
At Parker Waichman LLP, our Del Monte veggie tray contamination lawsuit attorneys have pursued legal claims against all types of manufacturers. To schedule your free Cyclospora Cayetanensis consultation with our highly respected products liability lawyers, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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