Farm-grown fruits and vegetables are supposed to be the healthiest foods to eat, far surpassing the processed foods that frequently fill our pantries and freezers. But sometimes, even fresh food can cause illness. Cantaloupes grown in Indiana and sold in July 2012 are thought to be the cause of over 178 cases food poisoning. The illnesses span 21 states, and two people have died. At least 50 of the cases were in Kentucky.
One farm has been identified by the FDA as producing the tainted cantaloupes – Chamberlain Farms in Owensville, Indiana. Even though the farm voluntarily recalled all of their cantaloupes, the FDA issued a formal product recall of the fruit on August 22, 2012 to make people more aware of the situation.
At least one lawsuit has been filed in the outbreak. A mother from Michigan claims she bought three of the tainted cantaloupes from Walmart. Both of her daughters ate the melon and contracted salmonella, which causes fever, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. People can become severely dehydrated and some even die. This woman’s daughters both required a doctor’s care and emergency room visits, and one daughter was hospitalized for four days. Her attorney has filed a lawsuit on the family’s behalf against Chamberlain Farms in Indiana and the Walmart that sold the melons. It claims that the family has incurred over $25,000 in medical bills.
This outbreak is similar to the one that occurred in September 2011 with cantaloupes. In that case, the cantaloupes were from Colorado and were tainted with listeria, which causes illness similar to salmonella. The attorney handling the recent lawsuit also represents 42 families that were allegedly affected by the listeria outbreak. He states that he is surprised that another outbreak has occurred because he “would have expected farmers, distributors and retailers to have better food safety procedures in place this year to prevent another cantaloupe-related outbreak from happening.”
Salmonella can be caused by a variety of factors. Fruit and vegetable plants are often fertilized with animal manure, which may contain salmonella. Sometimes fruits and vegetables are washed at a processing facility with unsanitary water that harbors salmonella. Improper shipping or storing of foods may also encourage the growth of salmonella. If a farm, processing plant, or store acts in a way that may promote the growth of salmonella in any food products, they may be held liable for illnesses caused by the tainted food.
Lawsuits involving faulty products can request damages that cover lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and even wrongful death and funeral expenses if the victim does not survive. An experienced Kentucky product liability attorney knows that an investigation into a potentially dangerous product has to be done quickly and precisely to determine whether or not there is a case and who should be held responsible. The knowledgeable attorneys at Miller & Falkner have helped residents of Kentucky and Indiana with product liability cases for over eight years.
First lawsuit filed in salmonella outbreak; WHAS11; August 29, 2012
Production, distribution stops at Ind. cantaloupe farm cited as outbreak source; WHAS11; Claudia Coffey; August 23, 2012
Marler Clark, Mother of Children Sickened by Salmonella-Contaminated Cantaloupe Sues Wal-Mart; Yahoo News; August 23, 2012