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FDA Recalls Tortillas Due to Risk of Botulism

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers were concerned to hear that the FDA has recently recalled Gentes Foods Gordita Black Bean Tortillas due to possible health risks to consumers.

As per the FDA’s statement, United Natural Foods, Inc. is recalling tortillas manufactured under their brand of Gentes Foods because they have the portential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum is a soil bacterium that can lead to Botulism poisoning in humans.

Botulism poisoning is a rare, but very serious, paralytic illness. One of the ways in which humans can be infected with botulism poisoning is by ingestion of the toxin on contaminated foods; however, once a person is infected, the disease does not transfer from person to person. When an individual is infected with botulism, symptoms typically present in a paralysis that begins with the muscles of the face and gradually spreads to the limbs. In the most deadly form of the disease, botulism leads to paralysis of muscles used for breathing, and eventually the victim may die of respiratory failure. Additionally, if the infected individual is unable to exhale, he or she may die of brain failure as a result of being able to expel the carbon dioxide.

Clostridium botulinum spores are very difficult to kill; they can survive the temperature of boiling water at sea level. As a result, many food manufacturers have to produce food in conditions that allow for a pressurized boil that achieves a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria.

To date, no reports of illnesses have surfaced from the tortillas, but poisoning from Clostridium botulinum can be potentially deadly. The World Health Organization reports that the current mortality rate following botulism infection is approximately 7.5% across the United States. Nevertheless, if treated in time, death can be prevented in victims of botulism poisoning. In serious cases, treatment may require a victim to be placed on a ventilator for weeks, as well as undergo additional forms of extensive medical care.

The products affected by the recall were distributed to Safeway and Pak N Save retail grocery stores, and can be identified by a white sticker applied to the packaging that reads “12 7 11.” This date code sold at other retail outlets has not been affected.

The FDA reports that the infected tortillas come in packages of six, and are vacuum packed in a clear sleeve. The package is approximately 10 oz in size, and an orange label is on a clear wrapper with white lettering. The products were contaminated as a result of a lack of temperature control during the distribution process.

Manufacturers of all types of consumer goods are responsible for ensuring that the products they distribute to the public are safe for human use. When injuries – or, as in this case, illnesses – arise from dangerous or defective products, the corporations who manufacture the products may be held legally responsible for the injuries that result.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report estimating that each year roughly 48 million people are sickened by a foodborne illness. Of those, 125,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die after consuming contaminated foods purchased from retail stores or restaurants.

Victims of foodborne illnesses who suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or death may be able to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages, if a manufacturer or distributer is responsible for the failure to contain the infection. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling Illinois food poisoning cases, including a $4 million settlement for three convention attendees who contracted salmonella poisoning that caused them to suffer crippling arthritic injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a foodborne illness, seek immediate medical attention. Additionally, an attorney may be able to apprise you of your rights under the law.