February 24, 2024

Top Food Poisoning Outbreaks of 2017: Deadly Botulism in Nacho Cheese Sauce at Valley Oak Food and Fuel

The Number 9 food poisoning outbreak of 2017 was the deadly botulism outbreak linked to nacho cheese sauce sold at Valley Oak and Fuel in Walnut Grove, California in May. Ten people were sickened in this outbreak, and one person died. All ten of the patients were hospitalized in serious condition.

Nacho Cheese Sauce on Tortilla Chips

The California Department of Public Health confirmed that nacho cheese sauce that was sold at that gas station tested positive for the botulinum toxin. And the toxin matched samples taken from the 10 patients.

Gehls Nacho Cheese Sauce was impounded during an inspection conducted at the gas station. Officials did not confirm that Gehls nacho cheese sauce was the source of the toxin; and we do not know how the product was contaminated. Low acid foods such as this cheese sauce can be a botulism risk if they are not properly handled or if the product is not reheated or held at a safe temperature.

The cheese sauce was packaged in plastic bags. Clostridium botulinum bacteria grow and produce toxin when the pH of a food is above 4.6, and when the food is held under low or no oxygen conditions.

A tiny amount of this toxin can cause serious illness and death. The symptoms of botulism food poisoning include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, a dry mouth, and difficulty swallowing. Paralysis gradually spreads down through the body in a symmetrical way, eventually causing death.

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food such as the nacho cheese sauce sold at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, California protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and their families sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. Class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are so unique.

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