On January 21, Dole temporarily suspended operations at their Springfield plant. Six days later, the company issued a voluntary recall of all packaged products produced there. The next day, the US Food and Drug Administration confirmed the presence of the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes at the processing facility.
The contamination resulted in a small but widespread outbreak of listeriosis. According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention, the first case was reported in July of last year. Investigators began hunting for the source of the infection in September 2015, but were unable to confirm a contamination until January 2016. As of February 25, eighteen people in the US had been hospitalized for the disease. One man, a Michigan native, died.
The outbreak is not unique to the U.S. The Packer reported “The Public Health Agency of Canada has recorded 11 illnesses, including three possible deaths, in five provinces it linked to the same listeria outbreak. Test results in the three deaths are not yet conclusive, the Canadian health agency reported.”
It is perhaps worth noting that we wrote about a listeriosis outbreak around the same time last year that was also a result of salad greens contamination. The bacterium is not typically found in the wild; products are usually contaminated during processing. We’re not saying that the cycle of contamination is linked to the time of year, but it is worth it to start looking at the news more closely during this time of the year as a preventative measure.
When quality control fails, people suffer
The dangers have spread to our corner of the world as well. An Ohio woman, Kiki Christofield, 77, purchased a salad mix packaged at the Springfield plant around January 20, just as that facility halted operations on suspicion of contamination. Christofield felt unwell and was taken by ambulance to the hospital just one day before the recall was issued. Doctors released her, unaware of the potential bacterial infection. Just five days later, her health had deteriorated so quickly that she became comatose, and remains so as of this writing.
Christofield’s daughter, Constance Georgostathis, filed suit against Dole in early March. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kiki Christofield. Facing the loss of a family member is never easy, and the emotional toll is compounded by the financial realities of constant medical care.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness from a defective or contaminated product, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and professional Kentucky and Ohio product liability lawyers at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.