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West Virginia defective product: Black pepper at Costco

Salmonella is a common food-borne illness that can seriously affect individuals with weak immune systems, such as young children and the elderly. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. It can also cause fever and pain in the abdominal area. In rare and few cases, it can cause more serious ailments if the organism enters the bloodstream. When salmonella is found in a food product in West Virginia or elsewhere, the product is often recalled and deemed a defective product.

This has recently occurred with black pepper. The spice was sold exclusively at Costco stores across the United States. The best-before date for the 12.7-ounce jars of black pepper is March 2017. The product was sold during the two-month stint between April 4 and June 4, 2014.

This isn't the first time that salmonella has been found in spices. In fact, there have been several outbreaks over the last several years. In June 2013, a study suggested that approximately 7 percent of spices that were imported were actually contaminated with the food-borne organism. Imported spices are said to account for well over three-fourths of the spice supply in the United States.

Despite that fact, however, there have only been 21 different cases of salmonella confirmed in the United States in the first decade of this century. Salmonella-contaminated spices may often go underreported due to the fact that the spices are consumed in such small quantities. This reduces the chance of a consumer getting sick.

However, if a consumer in West Virginia were to get sick and believe it may be due to the contamination of a defective product, they may have legal rights to pursue in court. Consumers may be able to file a products liability claim against the manufacturer and/or seller of the contaminated product. A properly managed claim could hold them -- or others in the supply chain -- financially responsible for allowing a contaminated, product on the market for sale and may result in an award of monetary relief to the consumer for the damages that they suffered as a result.

Source: Food Safety News, "Costco Black Pepper Recalled for Possible Salmonella Contamination", , June 6, 2014

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