Woman says she got salmonella from peanut butter

By Cara Bailey | Sep 9, 2008

CHARLESTON - A West Virginia woman has filed a lawsuit against a national food manufacturer, claiming she contracted salmonella after eating recalled peanut butter.

Denise Tate filed a suit Aug. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court against ConAgra Foods. ConAgra is a Nebraska-based company that produces Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter. There are several other plants located around the United States.

According to the suit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter that was linked to 288 confirmed cases of salmonella in 39 states. Tate claims she did not know the peanut butter was recalled.

Salmonella is a bacterium that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and warm-blooded animals, including birds. It is typically transmitted to humans by contaminated food or water. According to the suit, food that contains salmonella looks and smells normal and shows no signs on contamination.

Symptoms normally show up six to 72 hours after the infection process. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cramping, muscle pain, fatigue and dehydration for four to seven days.

On Feb. 14, 2007, the FDA recalled Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter jars, with a product code beginning in "2111." The manufacturing date on the peanut butter ranged from Aug. 3, 2005 to Jan. 3, 2007.

An inspection of the ConAgra plant in Sylvester, Ga., showed several conditions conducive to salmonella. The conditions included multiple portals of entry for rodents and birds, over 100 rat traps, rodent tracks on raw peanuts in the roasting room, dead insects, a dead rodent, bird feathers and excrement and significant roof damage and water leaks.

Tate claims she consumed a jar of peanut butter manufactured by ConAgra bearing the product code beginning in "2111," unaware that it was contaminated. She then began experiencing symptoms of salmonella poisoning.

Tate claims ConAgra was negligent in manufacturing the peanut butter, and failed to warn of potentially hazardous or life-threatening conditions associated with the peanut butter.

Tate seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorney Stephen E. Hastings is representing Tate. The case has been assigned to Judge Paul Zakaib.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-1488

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