Asheville salmonella outbreak tied to tempeh leads to lawsuit on behalf of hospitalized Fla. woman


Here’s the press release:

The Salmonella attorneys of Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, along with Asheville law firm Roberts & Stevens, filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Florida woman who was hospitalized after contracting a Salmonella paratyphi B infection. The defendants named in the lawsuit are Asheville-based Smiling Hara Tempeh and Maryland-based Tempeh Online.
In May, 2012, Buncombe County health officials and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services linked Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak to unpasteurized tempeh produced by Smiling Hara Tempeh. Officials determined the source of the outbreak to be imported starter culture that was used as an ingredient in the tempeh and was provided by Tempeh Online (also known as, a Rockville, Maryland company. Since the announcement of the outbreak, at least 88 people have been confirmed part of the Salmonella paratyphi B outbreak, and Tempeh Online has shut down its websites.
According to a complaint filed in North Carolina District Court in Asheville (#1:12-cv-152), Mary Ann Hurtado, a Jacksonville, Florida resident, was on vacation with her husband in Asheville when she consumed contaminated tempeh on March 19. Approximately 48 hours later, she began experiencing abdominal cramps. Her symptoms quickly escalated, and by March 23 included uncontrollable shaking, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and worsening cramps. Despite her illness, Mrs. Hurtado, a registered nurse, returned to Jacksonville the next day where she continued to attempt self-care at home. By March 25, however, she could barely walk and was rushed to the emergency room where she was eventually admitted to the hospital for three days of treatment. A stool sample secured after her admission would be sent to health officials for testing. Though still ailing from symptoms, she attempted to return to work on March 30. On April 2, Mrs. Hurtado was informed by Duval County Health in Florida of her positive test for Salmonella paratyphi B and directed to cease all patient contact at her place of work.
“Any company that produces or sells a food product has a duty to consumers to ensure that product is free of adulterants such as Salmonella – no exceptions,” said Marler Clark food poisoning attorney Bill Marler.
Marler, who has litigated food poisoning cases since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, is a food safety advocate and has called for increased vigilance with respect to imported foods. He continued, “Considering much of what we eat passes through many hands and is made from a variety of ingredients that come from countless places around the world, it would seem logical for a food producer to initiate a kill step that would eliminate any potential foodborne pathogens.” Added Marler, “Had Smiling Hara pasteurized its tempeh, this outbreak could’ve been avoided.”
BACKGROUND: Marler Clark is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella. The firm’s Salmonella lawyers have been litigating foodborne illness cases since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, and have obtained over $600,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for victims of Salmonella, E. coli, and other outbreaks. For more information, or if you are a member of the media and would like a copy of the complaint, please contact Cody Moore at (206) 407-2200 or cmoore(at)marlerclark(dot)com.


Asheville company tied to salmonella outbreak will provide tempeh for local food contest | Ashvegas July 10, 2012 - 3:28 pm

[…] in tempeh. The ingredient was provided by Tempeh Online, which subsequently shut down its websites. A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a Florida woman who was hospitalized during the outbreak, a suit that names both Smiling Hara and Tempeh […]

Ricky Party June 19, 2012 - 8:36 pm

I hear ya, but any defense lawyer worth their salt could easily pick apart the case with just the examples you listed. Regardless, that family is going to be up to the their necks in legal fees just to fight litigation.

Sara O June 19, 2012 - 5:42 pm

Oh. one more thing. If she ate it at a restaurant..she would not have known anyway. I doubt the restaurant would have disclosed such detailed info. for her.

Sara O June 19, 2012 - 5:41 pm

It seems their package does say unpasteurized on the label but I think these lawyers know their business. They wouldn’t go forward if it were that easy to call off. It is like saying..the coffee was too hot and burned me or I thought Nutella was a health food so why am I obese? It doesn’t matter. If the consumer says they did not know the’s a go.

Ricky Party June 19, 2012 - 1:31 pm

I feel for the plaintiff, but suing the company that simply used a product purchased and insured from another source seems a bit of a stretch. By that logic, all those people who got sick eating Subway’s lettuce a few years ago should also be able to sue Subway, since they don’t pasteurize their lettuce. All raw foods are going to carry the risk of disease, that’s the chance we all take when we eat pretty much anything that’s been handled many times before it reaches our plates.

I wonder, did Smiling Hara disclose that their tempeh was non-pastuerized? If so, they should be absolved of any liability. It’s up to the consumer (or in this case maybe the restaurant who served it) to ensure that it’s properly cooked or steamed before consumption.

Nate June 21, 2012 - 8:11 am

I feel for Smiling Hara Tempeh, but if you don’t think “all those people who got sick eating Subway’s lettuce” sued Subway *as well as* the farm that provided the lettuce, you’re crazy. Every party involved in the situation has liability insurance, so every party involved in the situation (and their insurers!) will be party to any lawsuits that are filed … that’s just how things work in this country these days.

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