Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is applauding the FDA for closing the Dixie Dew Products processing plant, which is the contract manufacturer for The SoyNut Butter Company. I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products, made by The SoyNut Butter Company, are linked to an E. coli O157:H7 HUS outbreak that has sickened at least 29 people in 12 states.
The FDA’s investigations at the plant in Erlanger, Kentucky revealed that food safety violations at that facility go back at least 15 years. Some violations included broken temperature control equipment, an infestation of flies and larva, production machines that have not been cleaned since 2015, and no hot water in hand-washing sinks for the last two years.
DeLauro said in a statement, “Dixie Dew’s gross negligence is sickening dozens of Americans and leaving thousands more at risk of falling seriously ill. With fifteen years of food safety violations, I am outraged that it took 29 Americans falling sick before the Dixie Dew plant closed. Not only did Dixie Dew fail to take action to prevent contamination of its products, we do not even know all of the names and locations of where the recalled products were sold.
“While the FDA made the right decision in shutting down the Dixie Dew plant, the agency should take another step forward and reverse its policy of withholding the names and locations of stores and schools where recalled food products are sold. As we have seen with Dixie Dew, it is irresponsible and insufficient to rely on the good faith of food corporations to provide all the necessary recall information. Americans deserve to know these details to ensure their health and safety.”
In March, DeLauro wrote to the FDA, asking them to reverse its policy on withholding names and locations of stores and schools where the recalled I.M. Healthy products were sold. The FDA has not responded to DeLauro’s letter. [Food Poisoning Bulletin has a partial list of grocery store chains that sold those products.]
The CDC’s latest update on the outbreak, posted on March 30, 2017, states that twelve of the twenty-nine patients have been hospitalized, and nine of them have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. Most of the patients, 24, or 83%, are under the age of 18.
Young children are more likely to develop HUS after a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection, which explains why the rate of this complication is so high in this outbreak. In most E. coli outbreaks, only about 5 to 10% of patients develop HUS.
The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe and painful abdominal and stomach cramps, diarrhea that is usually bloody and/or watery, and a mild fever. The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome include little or no urine output, lethargy, pale skin, unexplained bruises, a rash, and bleeding from the nose and mouth. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.
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 the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes the E-news site, 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. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infection and product liability cases.