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FDA warns against eating 'Veggie Booty' snacks; illness reported in Texas

Bob Dunn, Fort Bend Now (TX)

June 30, 2007

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against eating Veggie Booty children’s snack food, marketed by Robert’s American Gourmet of Sea Cliff, N.Y., after people in 17 states including Texas became sick after eating it.

The FDA said in a warning Thursday the snack food, which comes in 4- ounce, 1-ounce and half-ounce flexible plastic foil bags, may be contaminated with a form of Salmonella bacteria called Salmonella Wandsworth, which causes gastrointestinal illness.

People who have Robert’s American Gourmet brand Veggie Booty in their homes should throw it away, the FDA advised, adding that no other flavor of the company’s snacks have been found to be contaminated.

The FDA said 52 people, almost all of them children under 10 years old, have become sick after eating the food. Most reported bloody diarrhea, and four were hospitalized.

The FDA said it learned of the illnesses and apparent association with Veggie Booty on Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “which conducted an investigation of the illnesses with state and local health officials. The outbreak is considered likely to be ongoing.”

However, the FDA also said the illnesses first were detected in March. The agency provided no explanation for the three-month reporting delay.

Robert’s American Gourmet said on its web site it has recalled the Veggie Booty product, and provided instructions for obtaining refunds.

Salmonella typically causes diarrhea (may be bloody); the diarrhea is often accompanied by abdominal cramps and fever. Symptoms typically begin within one to four days after exposure to the bacteria. In infants, persons with poor underlying health and those with weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life- threatening infections.

Anyone who has recently eaten Veggie Booty and who has experienced any of the symptoms described above should contact a doctor or other health care provider immediately, the FDA said. Any such illnesses in people with a recent history of eating Veggie Booty should be reported to state or local health authorities.

One case was reported in Texas in which a person became sick after apparently eating Veggie Booty. No location or other details of the case were immediately available.

In addition to Texas, other states reporting illnesses associated with Veggie Booty include: California (seven cases), Colorado (five cases), Connecticut (one case), Georgia (one case), Indiana (one case), Massachusetts (three cases), Minnesota (two cases), New Hampshire (two cases), New Jersey (two cases), New York (13 cases), Oregon (one case), Pennsylvania (three cases), Tennessee (one), Vermont (three cases), Washington (four cases), and Wisconsin (two cases).

Robert’s American Gourmet, and its contract manufacturer, are fully cooperating with FDA’s investigation into the cause of the contamination, the agency said. Manufacturing and distribution of this product has ceased, and Robert’s American Gourmet is recalling all potentially contaminated product, including all expiration dates and lot codes. The product is sold in all 50 states and Canada at retail locations and over the Internet.

The FDA said its investigation has begun at the manufacturing facility, focused on identifying the source of the contamination.

Product samples have been collected and will be analyzed in FDA laboratories.

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