One man has passed away and nine others have been hospitalized as the result of a Sacramento botulism outbreak that has been linked to contaminated nacho cheese dip sold in an area gas station. According to a CBS News report, health officials have said tests have confirmed that the botulism toxin was present in the cheese dip sold in the Walnut Grove gas station. The contaminated containers were identified and the public is no longer at risk.
The family of the man who died said he fell into a coma and was on a ventilator before he died. Another woman filed a lawsuit saying she became paralyzed after consuming nacho cheese from the same gas station. The distributor of the product, Wisconsin-based Gehl Foods, says it is working with federal, state and local officials to find out what caused the contamination. The company says it retested samples from the lot of cheese linked to the botulism outbreak and that it’s clear of contamination.
Botulism is a paralyzing nerve toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and sometimes by strains of Clostridium butyricum and Clostridium baratii. The bacteria thrive in low-oxygen conditions as are mainly found in canned foods. When they grow, they create different types of neurotoxins that are deadly even when consumed in microscopic amounts. Botulism paralyzes the muscles. Early symptoms of the illness are drooping eyelids and blurred vision, dry mouth, slurred speech and difficulty swallowing.
If left untreated, it could result in paralysis of the arms, legs and trunk of the body. The patient will then experience difficulty breathing. Survivors may have to spend weeks or even months on ventilators to help them breathe. Even with treatment, there is no guarantee that patients will recover completely. The recovery process can be extremely slow. Another major botulism outbreak occurred in 2015 when at least 29 people fell ill after consuming food at a church potluck in Ohio. In that case, authorities blamed potato salad made from potatoes that had been improperly canned at home.
Justice and Compensation for Victims
There is no question that it is unfair for individuals to suffer the consequences of gross negligence on the part of food manufacturers and/or distributors. These entities have a legal obligation to make and distribute products that are safe for consumption. Those who manufacture, process and serve food (including retailers and restaurants) have a responsibility to store food at proper temperatures. They are also subject to local, state and federal food safety standards.
If you or a loved one has suffered food poisoning as the result of a defective product, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor, retailer and/or other parties seeking compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. If you have lost a loved one as a result of the defective product, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault parties as well.