Following the food poisoning death of a 72 year old woman, a peanut butter lawsuit has been filed against the manufacturer of peanut butter served at the nursing home where she was staying. A large tub at the facility has been found to be contaminated with the same strain of salmonella which has sickened people throughout the United States.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Shirley Mae Almer on January 26, 2009, in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis.
Defendants named in the complaint include Peanut Corporation of America, which manufactured thousands of pounds of contaminated peanut butter over the past six months, as well as King Nut Companies, the distributor who supplied the peanut butter to Almer’s nursing home.
Almer died on December 21, 2008, after a temporary stay at the nursing home in Brainerd, Minnesota.
The peanut butter lawsuit alleges that her death was caused by eating peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella typhimurium, the same strain of bacteria that has been linked to a national outbreak of food poisoning that started to surface late last year.
According to the complaint, the defendants failed to manufacture, package and transport their products safely, failed to supervise and train their employees effectively, did not maintain hygienic conditions for production of peanut butter, failed to test their final products before distributing them and did not take steps to prevent cross-contamination at the plant.
The Minnesota Department of Health found salmonella bacteria in an open 5 pound tub of peanut butter served at the Minnesota nursing home where Almer was residing, and other sealed containers of peanut butter manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America have been found to be contaminated with the same strain of bacteria, tracing the contamination back to the processing plant where the containers are sealed.
According to reports released on January 27, 2009, subsequent inspections by federal health officials have found evidence of Salmonella typhimurium at the plant, together with two other strains found on the floor of the facility and another strain in a different container of peanut butter produced by Peanut Corporation of America.
King Nut Companies distributed large tubs of peanut butter manufactured by Peanut Corp. to nursing homes, schools and other food service institutions in several states.
Peanut Corp. also sold peanut paste to nearly 100 different manufacturers of peanut butter crackers, cookies, ice cream, nutrition bars and other products containing peanut butter. As a result, peanut butter recalls have impacted nearly 400 products and new recalls are being issued every day.
The latest figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on January 27, 2009, indicate that there have been at least 501 reports of Salmonella typhimurium food poisoning reported throughout the United States, with 108 hospitalizations and 8 deaths. Over 280 cases involved children under 18 years of age, including infants.