At least 29 illnesses have been reported as a result of SoyNut butter contaminated with E. coli across 12 states, including five here in California. The Miami Herald reports that federal food safety officials have shut down a manufacturing facility of Dixie Dew Products, which manufactures SoyNut Butter. Officials say they found downright disgusting conditions at the Erlanger, Kentucky, facility including broken equipment and pest infestation.
Shocking Lack of Cleanliness
The violations are stomach-churning, according to the report. Inspectors observed a fly infestation. Small flies and larvae, too many to count, were inside an unplugged chest freezer and flying throughout the lab. They also saw a 3-inch rodent hole into a box of products in the walk-in cooler and mold growing on the surface of the butter. The equipment used to make SoyNut butter hadn’t been sanitized since December 2015.
Employees did not have access to hot water or soap. So, they used a hose to wash their hands. The hot water tank had been broken for two years. The bathroom mops were stained with filth and were intermingled with mops used to clean the food manufacturing equipment. Floors, walls and ceilings in the processing room were “heavily coated” with old SoyNut Butter build-up from previous production runs. Inspectors also found standing water and brown and black filth on the floor.
Illnesses and Recall
SoyNut Butter was recalled on March 7 after an E-coli outbreak. About 83 percent of the victims were under 18. Twelve were hospitalized including nine who developed a life-threatening type of kidney failure known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS. The first food poisoning lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of an 8-year-old boy who was hospitalized for a month due to the illness.
As personal injury lawyers who represent seriously injured victims of food poisoning, we are utterly horrified by the degree of negligence here. We hope this manufacturer and those involved are criminally charged for exposing consumers to the danger of serious illnesses. It is unconscionable for manufacturers of food products to neglect food safety laws. Those who do so must be held accountable.
If a contaminated food product has sickened you, please remember that you have rights. Seek prompt medical attention when you start experiencing symptoms. Get diagnostic tests that will help determine what type of illness you have. Report your illness to the local health care agency, which tracks outbreaks. Contact an experienced California food poisoning lawyer who will fight to protect your rights and help you obtain compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress.