Woman sues Pepperidge Farm and Minnesota whey producer over Salmonella

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: Pepperidge Farm
Pic: Pepperidge Farm
A Mississippi woman has filed a lawsuit against Pepperidge Farm and its whey powder supplier Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) alleging that Salmonella had contaminated its snacks.

Plaintiff Bailey Finch said she fell “extremely ill with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea”​ after eating Goldfish crackers on July 19, 2018, according to the court document.

About a week later, she was tested positive for Salmonella.

The suit alleged the Salmonella​ bacteria resided in a dry whey powder ingredient manufactured by AMPI, which is a supplier of the Goldfish crackers maker.

As a result, Finch requested compensatory damages for her medical costs and physical pain.

AMPI and Pepperidge Farm’s responses

AMPI recalled its dry whey powder packaged in 50 pound and 25kg bags produced at its Wisconsin factory last month due to potential Salmonella​ contamination.

“[Our] whey powder products are sold and distributed by brokers to food manufacturers that use them as ingredients in a number of foods, such as dairy, bakery and snack products,”​ it said.

The Minnesota-based company noted its products tested negative for Salmonella,​ and the recall was a precautionary act after additional products were tested positive under its test-and-hold procedure.

AMPI has since ceased production at its dry whey plant and notified all customers, including Pepperidge Farm, to return received ingredients.

However, it did not comment on the pending litigation.

Pepperidge Farm, on the other hand, defended itself in a public statement, emphasizing that it has recalled four varieties of its Goldfish crackers due to Salmonella​ concern earlier.

“The quality and safety of the food we make is our top priority,”​ said the company.

“While we sincerely regret to hear of Ms Finch’s illness, based on the facts available to us, we do not believe that our products could have been the cause of her illness.”

FDA lawyer: AMPI’s test-and-hold procedure is key

FDA attorney Ryan Kaiser said Finch’s allegations may need to be further assessed.

“I would expect key issues on investigating in this case to revolve around AMPI’s test-and-hold procedures, as well as the plaintiff’s conduct that could lead to alternative sources of her illness,”​ he said.

“If in fact the procedure and recalling of a larger lot were ineffective and caused the illness, [she would] expect a fast settlement.

“As long as there were no serious consequences, for example, due to a weakened immune system, this isn’t likely a high dollar value settlement,”​ added Kaiser.

*The case is Bailey Finch vs. Pepperidge Farm and Associated Milk Producers Inc. Case No. 1: 18cv152 - GHD – DAS, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Aberdeen Division

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