According to attorney Fred Pritzker, whose law firm has filed a lawsuit alleging E. coli from an I.M. Healthy product, parents should contact a doctor if their children have eaten an I.M. Healthy product and have any of the following symptoms within 10 days after consumption: diarrhea, especially if it is bloody; severe stomach cramping; vomiting; and/or decreased urine output, which is a sign of kidney failure from an E. coli complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
“Talk to your doctor about a stool test. It is usually the only way to prove your child has E. coli poisoning,” says attorney Pritzker, who has a national practice representing people sickened by contaminated food.
I.M. Healthy products, recalled in March 2017, have been linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. The most recent outbreak numbers provided by the CDC are 29 people sickened, 24 of them children. Twelve people have been hospitalized, nine of whom developed HUS.
“When children are harmed by a product that was supposed to be safe to eat, parents have the right to sue on their child’s behalf to get compensation and to hold the companies responsible accountable,” said Pritzker. “There is zero tolerance for E. coli bacteria in any ready-to-eat product.”
Pritzker discusses this outbreak in a new video.
To date, twelve states are involved in this outbreak. The case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (5), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (9), Virginia (2), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (1). People got sick on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to March 13, 2017. The patients are 1 to 57 years old, with a median age of 8. Twenty-four of those sickened are younger than 18. Fifty-nine percent of the patients are male.
The products recalled in March include the following: I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products, I.M. Healthy brand granola, Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter, and 20/20 Lifestyle Yogurt Peanut Crunch Bars.
After the recall, the FDA has shut down the Dixie Dew Products manufacturing plant in Kentucky, where the soy paste used in those products was made. FDA inspectors found “grossly insanitary conditions” that caused the products to be adulterated, according to the FDA Dixie Dew inspection report. In that inspection, liquid was dripping from a hole in the ceiling tile onto food manufacturing equipment, forklifts moved in and out of the facility, going to and from the waste disposal area, and the hot water tank for the hand washing stations was out of repair for two years.
The young age of most of the patients in this outbreak can be attributed to the product itself. SoyNut Butter is used as a substitute for peanut butter in many schools and daycare facilities. This also explains the high rate of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in this outbreak, since children under the age of five are most likely to develop that serious complication after an E. coli infection.
Unfortunately, nuts, a raw agricultural product, can be contaminated just like any other type of produce. Even though nut butters may seem benign, soy nut butter can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. There have been four serious food poisoning outbreaks linked to nut butters in the U.S. since 2009.
Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people harmed by adulterated food products in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of foodborne illness, including some of the largest verdicts and settlements in American history. The firm’s recent trial victory on behalf of a child with E. coli poisoning and hemolytic uremic syndrome is the biggest recovery of its kind. This was an individual case and not part of a class action lawsuit. The firm also publishes Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected source for food safety news and information. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.