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Pepperidge Farms Inc. faces a lawsuit alleging that a woman became ill with Salmonella gastroenteritis after eating the company’s Goldfish crackers, which purportedly contained contaminated dry whey powder. Finch v. Pepperidge Farms, Inc., No. 18-152 (N.D. Miss., filed August 8, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she bought and ate the Goldfish on July 19, 2018, became ill that evening, and tested positive for Salmonella one week later. Pepperidge Farm issued a recall of four varieties of Goldfish after its supplier notified it of potential contamination. Claiming manufacturing-defect strict liability, failure-to-warn strict liability, negligence per se, negligence and breach of warranties, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.

Multiple consumers have reportedly filed lawsuits against Chipotle Mexican Grill following the distribution of allegedly contaminated food that purportedly resulted in more than 700 customers becoming ill. The cause of the illnesses is unknown, as E. coli, Salmonella, norovirus and shigella tests reportedly returned negative results. One plaintiff seeks $25,000 in damages for his medical treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report on foodborne illnesses in the United States from 2009 to 2015. The agency’s Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System received reports of 5,760 outbreaks, resulting in 100,939 ilnesses, 5,699 hospitalizations and 145 deaths. The data reportedly revealed that norovirus was the most common outbreak cause, while Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli caused 82 percent of hospitalizations and deaths.

A federal court in Louisiana has dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit alleging that Chipotle Mexican Grill's food caused the plaintiff to contract Helicobacter pylori, holding that the plaintiff had not pleaded "any semblance of a fact that causally connects [his] illness" with Chipotle. Gilyard v. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., No. 17-0441 (W.D. La., entered June 14, 2018). The court found that the plaintiff failed to plead "factual allegations sufficient to show that Chipotle failed to act as a prudent person skilled in food preparation." The only factual allegation in the complaint, the court noted, was that the plaintiff regularly ate at Chipotle in the two months before he was diagnosed with an H. pylori infection. Further, the court found, the complaint did not allege how the food was defective, how the duty of reasonable care in making or storing the food was breached, or that Chipotle provided contaminated food or utensils.

A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was hospitalized after eating Salmonella-contaminated eggs from Rose Acre Farms Inc. Roberts v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 18-61082 (S.D. Fla., filed May 14, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she purchased eggs packaged by Coburn Farms, a Sav-A-Lot Food Stores brand, and became ill enough to require two hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked Rose Acre Farms eggs to a nine-state outbreak of Salmonella infections. Claiming strict product liability, breach of warranty, negligence and negligence per se, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced new food safety recommendations for managing the risk of arsenic in rice and efforts to reduce pathogens in meat and poultry products. Following a request to review issues related to arsenic in rice, GAO determined that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not updated its risk assessment of the human health effects in two years and was unable to provide a timeline for either an update or final draft guidance. GAO has recommended that FDA develop such timelines, work with other agencies to coordinate risk assessments and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop methods to detect contaminants in food. GAO also reviewed USDA’s approach to reduction of pathogens in meat and poultry, finding the agency has failed to develop standards for some products—including turkey breasts and pork chops—and has not fully documented its process for deciding…

A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit alleging Panera Bread Co. sold her salad greens contaminated with E. coli, causing her to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome after she consumed the meal. Fraser v. Freshway Foods, Inc., No. 18-7734 (D.N.J., filed April 16, 2018). Filed against Panera and its lettuce supplier Freshway Foods Inc., the complaint asserts that Panera sold contaminated lettuce sourced from Yuma, Arizona, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked to an E. coli outbreak. Alleging the lettuce was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” in violation of the New Jersey Products Liability Act, the plaintiff seeks damages for physical and mental pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, medical expenses and attorney’s fees.

Ruling that the jury instructions were misleading, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has reversed a jury verdict finding for a seafood restaurant in a lawsuit involving allegations of foodborne illness. Rhodes v. Lazy Flamingo 2 Inc., No. 17-11338 (M.D. Fla., entered March 29, 2018). The plaintiffs alleged negligence per se after one ate Lazy Flamingo's oysters, which were contaminated with Vibrio vulnificus and caused an illness requiring five days of hospitalization. A Florida regulation requires foodservice establishments serving raw oysters to display a health-risk warning on menus or table placards; the jury was instructed that it could consider the text of the regulation as well as a Florida foodservice industry bulletin indicating the warning “may be on menus, table placards, or elsewhere in plain view of all customers.” The appeals court found no evidence that the bulletin offered a "reasonable interpretation” of the regulation, reversed the verdict…

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied a petition from the National Chicken Council seeking to waive the line speed limit of 140 birds per minute in processing plants. FSIS told the council that processors of young chicken are permitted to run at higher speeds if they were one of 20 participants in a New Poultry Inspection System pilot study operating under a Salmonella Initiative Program (SIP) waiver. During the pilot program, participants demonstrated that they could maintain process control at line speeds up to 175 birds per minute and were capable of "consistently producing safe, wholesome and unadulterated product" and "meeting pathogen reduction and other performance standards.” The agency's letter indicated that it would consider granting additional SIP waivers but would not grant waivers that would allow processors to operate without maximum line speeds.

A website that allows individuals to report food poisoning incidents may help health officials identify outbreaks of foodborne illness, according to NPR. Developed by Patrick Quade, iwaspoisoned.com has reportedly handled more than 75,000 user posts from 46 states and 90 countries since its launch. After a cluster of reports, the website notifies local health officials; the site has correctly identified the source of four outbreaks before health officials did. Officials reportedly praise the site’s ability to identify norovirus outbreaks, which are often underreported. Officials have previously used Yelp to curate reports of foodborne illness.

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