Friday, June 1, 2012

Lawsuit Filed Against North Carolina Restaurant as Salmonella Outbreak Expands

A lawsuit has been filed against a Charlotte, North Carolina restaurant, Toast of Dilworth, which served Eggs Benedict that apparently sickened 10 customers with Salmonella enteritidis infection. The formal complaint was made by Seattle food-safety law firm Marler Clark on behalf of Bryan McWherter, a Charlotte resident.

Because food safety depends to a large degree on proper food handling, many restaurant owners today have made a Learn2Serve food handler certification or a food safety certification an employment requirement. Much needs to be done, however, judging from the current frequency of foodborne illnesses.

In his complaint, McWherter said some 12 hours after dining at Toast of Dilworth on March 25, 2012, he started to suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms, which escalated in next two days. He obtained medical treatment for his symptoms, but he continued to experience severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea for 10 more days.

In addition to the gastrointestinal illness, McWherter reported in his suit developing reactive arthritis because of the Salmonella infection. He initially suffered arthritic pain in both his left ankle and left wrist, which later spread to his left knee and elbows. The reactive arthritis is likely permanent.

"Toast of Dilworth owed Bryan McWherter a duty to serve him food that was safe for human consumption," stressed his attorney, Bill Marler. "A customer who orders an egg dish doesn't expect to miss multiple days of work and incur significant medical expenses because they ordered something contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella shouldn't be in our food."

Meanwhile, the Salmonella-infection multistate outbreak associated with contaminated sushi tuna has not abated. As of the first week of May, some 268 people in 24 states and the District of Columbia had been sickened, 32 of them sick enough to need hospitalization. This outbreak involves two other types of Salmonella, the Salmonella bareilly and Salmonella nchanga strains.

Among the latest victims of the Salmonella outbreak was rocker Chris Fronzak, the frontman of the heavy metal band Attila, who became ill during the band’s "The Sick Tour" in Louisiana in April. Froznak reported suffering debilitating nausea and vomiting about 30 hours after eating sushi.

The singer said he became alarmed when he noticed blood in his vomit. "If I wasn't the lead singer of the band I would've loved to have just not played but without me they couldn't have played any shows, and it would have cost a substantial financial loss, so I had to just go up there and do it."

He sought medical attention when the symptoms had not subsided after a week.

"I was surprised when I found out I had Salmonella but when I finally linked everything together—when I found out about the Moon Marine company—it made sense," said Fronzak.

Earlier investigations pointed to Moon Marine Corporation as the company that imported and distributed the "Nakaochi Scrape" ground tuna product involved in the outbreak. About 59,000 lbs. of the product have since been recalled.

The outbreak had originally clustered on the Eastern Seaboard and the Gulf Coast, but it has since expanded and as of this writing, the outbreak has reached California.
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