The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has recently issued a new warning instructing consumers to avoid eating raw cookie dough or any other batter, even if it does not contain eggs. The agency first expressed its concern about consumers’ tendency to chew on raw dough before cooking it in 2009, when an E. coli outbreak affected raw dough products. The investigation following the outbreak revealed that a number of consumers were not aware of the dangers that can result from consuming uncooked dough products.
Now, the main event prompting the FDA’s new warning involves the recent recall of 10 million pounds of flour produced by major international food product manufacturer General Mills. Sold under the brand names of Signature Kitchens, Gold Medal, and Gold Medal Wondra, these flours may contain the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O121 virus. At least 42 individuals have become ill across 21 different states as a result of consuming the contaminated flour products. There have been at least 11 hospitalizations, but there have not been any reports of individuals developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a common kidney-related condition that results from E. coli infections.
The FDA first discovered the presence of the potentially deadly bacterium in the flour products in late June 2016, when it collected samples from homes of ill patients located in Oklahoma and Arizona. Although E. coli O121 can be neutralized and killed through heat treatments like sauteing, boiling, frying, or baking, it can still contaminate individuals if it is transferred to countertops, utensils, or other cooking implements. Early signs of contamination include fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Although the infection can be treated in most cases, it is particularly life-threatening in vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and individuals who have a weakened immune system.
To recover compensation from a food manufacturer or another entity in the food production chain, the plaintiff will need to prove that the allegedly liable party created, produced, marketed, or distributed the food with the contaminant. The plaintiff must also demonstrate that the defendant failed to use reasonable care in the prevention or identification of the contamination and that the plaintiff consumed the food. You will also need to show that you became ill as a direct result of the contamination and that a medical professional diagnosed you as likely having contracted some sort of food-borne illness. There are multiple causes of action that a plaintiff can assert, including strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. The specific elements of each of these claims are different and may require varying sets of evidence. As a result, it is important to conduct a thorough investigation into your claim and to ensure that you include all possible defendants in the lawsuit.
At Moll Law Group, our skilled and seasoned E. coli lawyers have assisted victims throughout the U.S. with bringing a claim against a food manufacturer or restaurant after becoming ill, including victims in Florida, Illinois, New York, and California. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and to help you learn more about the legal options that may be available to you. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.