October 25, 2021

Watch: Children Describe Mother’s Death From Salmonella Poisoning

Zella Ploghoft shared a dinner-for-two with her son, Philip, at their favorite restaurant in 2010. They both got Salmonella poisoning. Philip recovered, but Zella did not. She died after a seven-week hospitalization.

Teddy Bear Mouring the Loss of a ChildPhilip and his sister, Shelly, describe their mother and her painful, preventable death from food poisoning in a video from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To watch the video or to see other videos about food poisoning victims click here.

Salmonella is the second leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S., and the leading cause of food-related hospitalization and death, according to the FDA. Each year, more than 370 Americans die from Salmonella poisoning.

Zella and Philip were part of a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 56 people, hospitalized seven and caused Zella’s death. For Zella and Philip, symptoms of illness began he morning after their meal. They had multiple bouts of diarrhea, then vomiting then dry heaves, which Philip describes as “quickly debilitating.”

Zella went to the hospital. Philip spent three of four days in bed at home unable to keep anything, even a drink of water, down. When he called his mother at the hospital to see how she was doing, Zella, never one for drama, asked, “did you think you were going to die?” Shelly remembers her mother saying it was the first time in her life that she thought she might not make it through the night.

For the entire seven weeks she was hospitalized with the salmonellosis, Zella had constant, severe abdominal pain, Shelly said. Nothing relieved it. She wasn’t able to eat, she had a feeding tube, IVs, and a catheter.

The video ends with recommendations to restaurants and food service organizations. They include: wash hands and food contact surfaces often, stay home from work if you are sick,  don’t touch ready-to-eat food with your bare hands, separate raw meats form other foods, cook food to the proper temperature and cool foods promptly.


  1. Tami Hastings says

    Very touching video. I am so thankful that these stories are being recorded and shared because it really brings the tragedy home. What if that was your Mom? Unfortunately most food service is ALL about hurry and $$$. I am thankful that we are now using the 2009 FDA Food Code as our Food Ordinance. There MUST be a Person In Charge (PIC), there MUST be someone held accountable. There MUST be hand washing AND glove usage with ready to eat (RTE) foods. Food employees SHALL NOT work if they are ill. These items and many more must be in place at all times, not just when the Health Inspector shows up. Food Poisoning is preventable.

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