Defective peanut butter complaint filed by Florida woman in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Jun. 5, 2007, 3:30am

A Florida woman who purchased Peter Pan Peanut Butter from an Illinois Dollar General filed a personal injury suit in Madison County Circuit Court May 31, claiming she became "violently ill" after eating a batch of tainted peanut butter between Oct. 5 and Oct. 10, 2006.

Helen Williams claims her peanut butter was part of a batch that ConAgra Foods admitted contained salmonella.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 628 people in 47 states have reported salmonella poisoning since last August after eating Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter.

ConAgra recalled all its peanut butter after government investigators linked the salmonella outbreak to the peanut butter.

ConAgra officials have said they believe moisture in the plant likely helped bacteria to grow and later infect the peanut butter. The company plans to start selling Peter Pan again sometime in July.

Williams claims ConAgra failed to inspect food manufactured and sold, failed to monitor and test peanut butter and failed to screen for foreign bacteria.

"The peanut butter had a particular defect or hazard which was the presence of salmonella bacteria when put to a reasonably expected use of human consumption," the complaint states.

Williams also claims ConAgra failed to warn of the salmonella.

She claims she has suffered personal injuries, has incurred medical expenses, continues to experience extreme anxiety and mental anguish when she attempts to eat and has sustained other damages including lost wages.

Represented by L. Donald Huelson of Chicago, Williams is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

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