A lawsuit was filed Monday on behalf of a two-month-old baby boy who was hospitalized after contracting a dangerous infection from the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis, the same bacteria responsible for the nationwide recall of over 155 pet food formulas made by Diamond Pet Food.
The infant suffered from severe gastrointestinal symptoms, diarrhea, fever and loss of appetite. A day later, his pediatrician sent him to a hospital, where he spent three days and was diagnosed with salmonellosis. The bacteria cultured from the patient proved to be the same rare genetic subtype, Salmonella Infantis found in other human and product samples associated with the outbreak and recall.
Though the baby has recovered, he suffered “severe injuries to his gastrointestinal tract.” He is at risk of kidney and liver damage and monitoring will be needed, doctors say.
The family’s dogs did not get sick, nor did the parents, and salmonella was not detected in the bag of dog food, which the County Health Department sent to a state health lab for testing after the baby became sick. Despite the negative result for salmonella, it is believed that salmonella contamination would not be spread uniformly throughout the bag of food, which would explain the negative test result. Or that the contamination with the rare salmonella strain could have come from an earlier batch of dog food he purchased.
The baby’s father had been purchasing Kirkland Signature Super Premium Healthy Weight Dog Formulated with Chicken & Vegetables for the family dogs. It was one of the varieties of recalled Diamond dog food.
The family’s lawyer, Elliot Olsen of PritzkerOlsen in Minneapolis, says the route of transmission to the child is uncertain but there had to have been “some common contact with the dog food and source of food for the kid” and it “might have happened through the parents’ hands.” Olsen points out that the salmonella strain contracted by the infant is uncommon and the same as the one that sparked the recall. “To have a child come up with this exact form of salmonella, which is relatively rare, it’s epidemiologically pretty solid,” he says.
The seven-count complaint against both Diamond and Costco asserts claims under New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and Product Liability Act, as well as common-law claims like negligence, breach of warranty and fraudulent misrepresentation.
The plant where the food was manufactured in Gaston, South Carolina was found to be in violation of several food safety laws. The FDA inspected the plant on April 12, 2012 and stated that the company was not taking “all reasonable precautions to ensure that production procedures to not contribute contamination from any source.” Violations included a lack of microbiological analysis, no hand washing and hand sanitizing facilities, and poorly maintained equipment, containers, and utensils that were difficult or impossible to clean, specifically the duct tape and cardboard used on machinery.
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- FDA Releases Diamond Pet Foods Preliminary Inspection Report (poisonedpets.com)
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- Diamond’s troubled plant is up and running again, despite not having found the cause of the contamination (poisonedpets.com)