A second lawsuit was filed in Oregon District Court today against food giant ConAgra. The lawsuit arises from the nationwide Salmonella outbreak linked to the Marie Callender’s brand frozen Cheesy Chicken and Rice dinners. Food safety law firm Marler Clark filed the lawsuit on behalf of Oregon resident Kevin Taylor, Jr.
Two days after Mr. Taylor, 24, consumed the Marie Callender’s dinner, he woke up with a fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. His symptoms worsened quickly, but because he was uninsured, he stayed home and tried to wait for the illness to pass. When his diarrhea become bloody, however, he and his family became concerned, and his mother rushed him to an urgent care clinic, where he was treated and released. Mr. Taylor was given prescriptions for his illness, but his lack of insurance prohibited him from filling them.
Ultimately, Mr. Taylor remained ill at home and unable to work for another week. He lost ten pounds during the illness, and though he continues to recover, he suffers from a greatly diminished appetite. Stool tests done at the urgent care clinic later showed that he had been infected with the strain of Salmonella Chester associated with the ConAgra-Marie Callender’s outbreak.
“Unfortunately, this is not ConAgra’s first Salmonella outbreak linked to a frozen food item,” said Mr. Taylor’s attorney, Drew Falkenstein. “Their Banquet brand frozen Pot Pie dinners sickened over 400 consumers in 2008, and this outbreak has the potential to be just as devastating. The company needs to do everything it can to warn its customers about the dangers associated with the product, and help get the contaminated products out of stores and consumers’ homes.”
ConAgra recalled the Marie Callender’s brand meal after state and local health authorities identified it as the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 30 people in 15 states to date. The CDC reports the illnesses in each state as: California with 4 ill, Colorado (2 ill), Georgia (6), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (2), Minnesota (2), Missouri (1), North Carolina (1), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (2), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (1), Utah (1), and Virginia (3). ConAgra estimates that 800,000 packages were in stores nationwide and in consumers’ freezers when the recall was issued.