A Seattle law firm specializing in food safety filed a lawsuit last week in federal District Court against a California food distributor on behalf of Dorothy Pearce of Stanwood.
Eight people statewide this summer were reported as suffering from salmonella braenderup, the same bacteria type that matches an outbreak in 16 states and two Canadian provinces, said state health department spokesman Donn Moyer.
About 140 people in North America reported getting sick after eating mangoes. Symptoms included nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and severe stomach cramping. The food-borne illness is especially dangerous to people with compromised immune systems, elderly adults and children, health officials said. No deaths have been reported.
William Marler of Marler Clark in Seattle filed the lawsuit against Splendid Products of Burlingame, Calif., the distributor of Daniella mangoes.
The federal Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers against eating mangoes from Agricola Daniella, a mango supplier with a packing house in Sinaloa, Mexico.
Voluntarily recalled by Splendid, the Daniella mangoes have been identified as the source of a nationwide salmonella braenderup outbreak, Marler said. According to Food Poisoning Bulletin, Mexico has denied that the outbreak strain of salmonella braenderup has been found anywhere in the packing house for Daniella mangoes.
Six people in Washington reported being ill in July and the other two reported being sick in August, Moyer said. While all eight cases match the salmonella strain associated with the mango recall and it's expected there's some connection, no definitive link to mango consumption and the mangoes in the recall has been found in the state so far, he said.
"That's not to say there's no connection, necessarily," Moyer said. "We're working with local health partners and others to see if there may be other contributing sources."
Of the eight Washington cases, two people said they didn't eat mangoes, two couldn't recall eating mangoes and two could not be reached for more information. Only two, including Pearce, knew they had eaten mangoes, Moyer said. From 600 to 800 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the state each year, and salmonella braenderup is a fairly common strain, he said.
Imported foods can have problems, but the United States produces plenty of food-borne illnesses of its own, Marler said.
"We aren't seeing problems such as E. coli in hamburger as much anymore," Marker said. "The problem now in the U.S. is with fresh fruits and vegetables. From my perspective, this underscores the fact that FDA needs to get out their new rules about fresh fruits and vegetables. And then we have to be vigilant about enforcing them or we will see more people getting sick."
Pearce is now out of the hospital.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.
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