Articles Posted in Food Law

alexander-maasch-202885-300x199Since January 31, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been investigating an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes. The foodborne outbreak linked to Vulto Creamery products has so far caused six people to fall ill across four states, leading to two fatalities. Originally Vulto’s Ouleout cheese appeared to be the issue. However, the company expanded its voluntary recall on March 10 to include all of its products on the market, including Hamden, Heinennellie, Miranda, Walton Umber, Willowemoc, Andes, and Blue Blais. These cheeses have been distributed across the U.S., including in California.

What is Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that causes serious illness in individuals and can even lead to death. Fatalities are most common in young children, the elderly, and individuals with previously compromised immune systems. Elderly individuals often develop sepsis, meningitis, or encephalitis from listeriosis. It is particularly an issue for pregnant women. This bacterial infection can lead to miscarriage, premature labor, still birth, and illness or death of a newborn. According to the CDC, listeriosis causes fetal loss in about 20% of cases and newborn death in about 3% of infections.

alisa-anton-134332-copy-300x200As of March 7, the SoyNut Butter Company has recalled all I.M. Healthy SoyNut butter and I.M. Health Granola due to contamination. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these products have Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria. The company previously announced a voluntary recall of its I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter, but additional illnesses and investigations led to an expansion of the recall to include the chunky, honey cream, unsweetened, and chocolate varieties. The granola comes in original, apple, blueberry, and raisin and cranberry, which are all subject to the current recall. All sizes of these products should be immediately thrown away.

Reported Illnesses

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating 16 illnesses linked to the SoyNut Butter Company products across New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and California. The first six states have one illness each, while Oregon has two reported illnesses and California and Arizona each have four.

Colorful_Black_Raspberry_Ice_Cream_Cone_(2420648653)Nestlé “Drumsticks” are synonymous with warm, sunny days. The sweet ice cream treats are distinguishable by their chocolate-and-nut candy “shell” that encapsulates ice cream atop a waffle cone and have been a sought-after treat by children for generations. However, one of the production facilities used to create the Drumstick ice cream cone has tested positive for listeria. As a result, Nestlé has issued a voluntary recall for all Drumsticks that were part of the company’s Drumstick Club 16-Count variety pack and 24-count Vanilla Pack boxes manufactured between August 31, 2016 and September 17, 2016.

Listeria Bacteria and Complications

The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes can lead to listeriosis (or listeria) if a person eats food contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria can cause food poisoning in individuals, particularly the elderly, pregnant women, newborn children, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems. Symptoms of infection can include:

Despite a movement towards farmer’s markets and co-ops, most Americans still get the bulk of their food from grocery stores and large retailers.  In 2016, we should be able to trust that these products are safe.  Unfortunately, foodborne illness remains a major problem in this country as a recent listeria outbreak demonstrates.  While most people might suffer a bad stomach ache after exposure to foodborne bacteria, some end up in the hospital and some even die.  Our San Francisco food safety lawyer is here to help when unsafe foods cause serious consequences.

Major Outbreak of Listeria Leads to Massive Recall

CBS SF recently reported on an outbreak of listeria that has prompted a massive recall of frozen foods.  According to the report, the Centers for Diseaseveggies Control (“CDC”) has released a list of 358 frozen fruit and vegetable products, including 42 different brand names, that may be contaminated with the potentially deadly bacteria.  The list includes products sold in all 50 states by retailers including Safeway, Costco, and Trader Joe’s.  At least 8 people have been hospitalized after consuming contaminated foods, two of whom later died of other causes.

If you’ve suffered from food poisoning, chances are the misery is cemented in your brain.  You may recall stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms.  Food poisoning can, however, be even more serious.  Food poisoning can put people in the hospital, cause long-term damage, and even lead to death, especially in vulnerable populations.  This is why we practice food safety law and why our food safety law firm in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and Oakland talks about food poisoning prevention and, when needed, food poisoning lawsuits.  As we hear about one of the first large recalls of 2016, we take this opportunity to provide the following Food Poisoning FAQ and safety tips.

Trader Joes Recalls Cashews

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the popular grocery chain Trader Joe’s is warning the public that certain cashewsbags of “Raw Cashew Pieces” (barcode 00505154) may be contaminated with salmonella.  Specifically, the store’s supplier alerted them to potential contamination in bags labeled “BEST BEFORE 07.17.2016TF4.”  Although the initial alert suggests the bags were not sold in California, they were sold in neighboring states and it is still wise to check the packaging.  Thus far, no illnesses have been linked to the nuts, but a press release from Trader Joe’s says the nuts have been removed from shelves and asks anyone who has bags from that specific lot to either throw them out or return them to the store for a full refund.

Eating healthy has never been so easy…or so hard.   Thanks to the Internet and increased access to information about nutrition and other health topics, consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips.  Still, sometimes all that information becomes overwhelming, especially with more products appearing on store shelves making a wide range of promises.  Useful and accurate labeling is critical to enabling consumers to make informed choices.  Food labeling lawsuits allow consumers to fight back when companies make false and potentially dangerous promises.  As a food safety law firm in San Francisco, the Brod Law Firm believes consumers must be able to trust food labels and rely on companies to produce safe foods that live up to company promises.

herbsCalifornia Supreme Court Rules in Organic Labeling Case

Last week, the Supreme Court of California issued an important ruling in favor of consumers in a food labeling lawsuit.  At issue according to NBC7 was whether consumers could file suit in California alleging that a product was falsely labeled “organic.”  A lower appeals court had ruled such suits were barred by federal law which typically supersedes state law.  That decision, handed down in 2013, held that Congress intended that government officials would be solely responsible for policing the term in order to create a uniform national standard.

It seems like food safety is in the news more and more.  Last week, officials announced that an e. coli outbreak tentatively linked to a major chain restaurant has hit California (CBS News).  Foodborne bacteria LOVE the holidays.  As you contemplate Thursday’s feast, our San Francisco food safety law firm has some advice on holiday food safety to ensure foodborne illness doesn’t hit your Thanksgiving table.

Foodborne Illness and Holiday Celebrations

thanksgiving2Foodborne bacteria can strike at home as well as in commercial dining establishments.  The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) webpage Tracking and Reporting Foodborne Disease Outbreaks reports that 48% of the outbreaks linked to a known single setting from 2009-2010 involved a restaurant or deli while 21% involved food consumed in a private home.  We suspect these numbers might be skewed since it is easier to trace a larger outbreak to its source.  Regardless, consumers have much greater control when it comes to home cooking.

ecoliWhether it’s to celebrate a special event, a way to spend time with someone you love, an opportunity to get to know someone new, or simply a chance to give the kitchen (and the family chef”) the night off, Americans love dining out.  Restaurants can tantalize the taste buds with something new while connecting with our companions or with ourselves.   Thanks in part to a network of health-related laws and regulations, dining out is usually a safe experience and typically the biggest health risk lies in overindulging.  However, on occasion a restaurant meal leaves diners dealing with a foodborne illness, including conditions that can be fatal.  When a meal out in Northern California leaves a patron ill, especially when the illness is serious, our San Francisco restaurant lawyer can help.

Shigella Outbreak Traced to San Jose Restaurant

As of Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, officials had identified more than 80 people who were sickened by a bacterial infection after eating at a San Jose restaurant.  After numerous people sought treatment at area hospitals last weekend, doctors and investigators concluded they were dealing with an outbreak of shigella and traced the bacteria to a suspected source, a Mexican seafood restaurant in downtown San Jose.  All of the infected patients had dined at the establishment on Friday or Saturday.   Of the 80 plus people believed to have been sickened by the outbreak, testing has confirmed that 15 have the shigella bacteria.  Twelve patients required treatment in intensive care.  The restaurant is closed while the investigation continues.

The days of “PB&J” as a school lunch staple are gone in many areas.  Policies limiting the presence of peanuts are just one result of a startling rise in food allergies.  For many sufferers, food allergies go far beyond a tingly mouth or upset stomach.  Food allergies can be deadly making accurate labeling and attention to detail throughout the food industry incredibly important.  Food allergy litigation is a developing field and our San Francisco food allergy lawyer is prepared to advocate for people and families who have faced a serious allergic reaction because of inaccurate labeling, careless food preparation, or other negligent food handling and/or preparation practices.

Massive Cheerios Recall Due to Presence of Allergen

This week, perhaps the biggest name in cereal went from the shelves to the headlines as General Mills recalled 1.8 million boxes of regular and Honey Nut Cheerios.  NBC Bay Area reports that the recalled cereal, which was produced in July at a Lodi, California facility, is labelled “gluten-free” but contains wheat.  General Mills says wheat flour, which contains gluten, was inadvertently used instead of gluten-free oat flour.  Consuming gluten can cause an allergic reaction or discomfort for people with celiac disease, wheat allergies, or other health issues.  General Mills is pulling affected cereals from stores and warehouses.  Customers who purchased the affected cereals and are unable to eat wheat can contact General Mills for a replacement or a refund.

Water is an essential building block of life.  In recent years, numerous public health campaigns have touted the importance of drinking water, especially as an alternative to sugary sodas and juice drinks.  Environmentalists have urged Americans to drink tap water in reusable containers rather than wasting countless plastic bottles.  The silent assumption in these messages is that our water is safe to drink. Unfortunately, that is not always true.  Recently, we’ve noticed a number of headlines dealing with potentially contaminated water in California and across the nation.  Our Northern California unsafe drinking water law firm is prepared to help when drinking water sickens people in our community.

Contaminated Water in Los Altos and Colorado

The threat of contaminated water became all too real for some Los Altos residents in recent weeks as noted in reports from the San Jose Mercury News and radio station KLIV.  On Sunday, July 26, the California Water waterService (“Cal Water”) notified customers living in a four to five kilometer segment of the city that tests showed e. coli and total coliform bacteria in their water supply.  For a few of the 853 customers affected, the related boil water order was only lifted this past Saturday (August 8) after Cal Water finished treating the water main.