Susie Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak Lawsuit - Washington (2002)


On May 13, 2002 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a press release reporting that an outbreak of Salmonella serotype Poona had been traced to the consumption of Susie Brand cantaloupes distributed in the United States and Canada by the I. Kunik Company of McAllen, Texas. FDA reported that the cantaloupe was sold in retail stores, restaurants, and possibly used in other institutions. FDA investigators determined that dozens of people had been sickened after eating the contaminated cantaloupe, and detained all cantaloupe imported by I. Kunick from Mexico.

Investigators from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ultimately found 58 cases of Salmonella Poona in ten states and four Canadian provinces that had indistinguishable pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, or “DNA fingerprints” connecting them to the outbreak. Salmonella cases associated with the outbreak were found in Arkansas, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Manitoba, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Ontario, Oregon, Saskatchewan, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. All ill individuals had eaten the cantaloupe between March 30 and May 31, 2002; ten patients were hospitalized.

Marler Clark represented an 85-year-old Washington resident who was hospitalized for 18 days after eating the contaminated cantaloupe in a claim against I. Kunick after he became ill with a Salmonella infection. The man’s claim was resolved for an undisclosed sum in 2003.

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