The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a putative class-action lawsuit in a Connecticut court on behalf of an Arizona woman who allegedly had a severe allergic reaction from eating artificial chicken patties made with a Quorn Foods, Inc. fungus. Cardinale v. Quorn Foods, Inc., No. __ (Conn. Super. Ct., filed September 15, 2009). CSPI participated in another lawsuit raising similar allegations against the Connecticut-based company and Whole Foods Markets, Inc. in Texas, but those claims were apparently dismissed.

According to CSPI, more than 1,000 consumers have contacted it to complain that eating foods containing the meat substitute, described in the complaint as “a proprietary processed, vat-grown, soil fungus, combined with flavorings, binders, and other substances,” causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylactic reactions. A CSPI press release characterizes the product as a “fibrous, proteinaceous paste.”

The named plaintiff in the Connecticut litigation purportedly ate Quorn Chik’n Patties® on three occasions in 2008 and each time “became violently ill. The pain was so bad that it felt like the soles of Cardinale’s feet were going to come out of her mouth. The last time she ate Quorn, Cardinale vomited seven to eight times within two hours.”

The plaintiff alleges violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and seeks restitution, “money damages” less than $2,500, an injunction barring the company from continuing to sell its product without providing suitable warnings, and attorney’s fees. She also seeks to certify a nationwide class of purchasers, and states that the action “does not seek relief for any claims for economic or personal injury that any member of the class asserted, or could assert, against Quorn for any reason.” See CSPI Press Release, September 17, 2009.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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