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Parents sue, saying son sick from Veggie Booty

Robert Kessler, (NY)

July 3, 2007

The parents of an 18-month-old Indiana boy filed suit yesterday claiming their child developed salmonella poisoning after eating the recalled Veggie Booty snack food produced by a Sea Cliff company.

The lawsuit was filed on the same day that Robert's American Gourmet recalled a second popular snack food over fears it could be contaminated with salmonella.

The company said it was recalling all lots and sizes of Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks sold across the United States and Canada.

Company president and chief executive Robert Ehrlich said the recall was precautionary, because the product used the same seasoning as the Veggie Booty recalled last week.

The lawsuit was filed by David and Ashlee Allen of Valparaiso, Ind., on behalf of their son Xavier, in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, and is believed to be the first of its kind since Thursday, when the federal Food and Drug Administration announced the voluntary recall of Veggie Booty, which contains a blend of spinach, kale, cabbage, carrots and broccoli, according to the company Web site.

The FDA said it acted after receiving reports of more than 50 cases of salmonella poisoning in 17 states. Many of those infected reported having eaten Veggie Booty.

The suit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, says Xavier ate Veggie Booty the week of May 20 and developed a case of severe bloody diarrhea that was diagnosed as salmonella poisoning.

William Marler of Seattle, the Allen family's attorney, said yesterday that Xavier is still being treated. He added that the type of salmonella poisoning that Xavier has is rare among the 2,000 strains of the bacteria, and that salmonella poisoning itself is unusual in cooked products such as Veggie Booty. Marler speculated that the salmonella arose from some additive introduced after the snack was cooked.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment. Ehrlich said his company is still testing to determine the source of any contamination. The seasoning is exclusive to the company, he noted.

The actual product is made under contract by an unnamed manufacturer, the company said in a release.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, especially in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The company said consumers who purchased Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks and still have the product should discard the contents and contact the company at 800-626-7557 for reimbursement.

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