Parents Are Suing Soy Nut Butter Maker Over E. Coli Contamination

© The SoyNut Butter Company
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Their child was hospitalized after eating it.

Just days after SoyNut Butter Co. recalled its I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter, parents of one child hospitalized with E. coli after eating the spread are suing the company.

The 8-year-old boy is one of 12 people identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as infected with E. coli since Thursday, March 2. The outbreak spans five states.

Mosby and Erin Simmons of California are suing SoyNut Butter Co. for product liability, negligence, and breach of implied warranty, according to the Miami Herald. Their son, who regularly ate the now-recalled peanut butter substitute, has been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a condition that will require the young boy to undergo dialysis and a blood transfusion. At least four other people who ate I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter have HUS, the newspaper reports. Eleven of the 12 people infected are children.

SoyNut Butter Co. refused to comment on the Miami Herald's story. The company recalled its spread on Friday and expanded the recall on Sunday. You can view the affected butters in this notice.

According to its website, SoyNut Butter products serve more than two million children—many of whom have peanut allergies—a month, most commonly in schools and daycares.

While beef and produce are most commonly associated with E. coli, walnuts and hazelnuts have also previously been contaminated, says Michael Doyle, regents professor of food microbiology at the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, "so there is precedence for nuts being a source of E. coli O157 infections in humans." Soy nut butter is made from soybeans, but it still carries a similar risk of E. coli as other nuts.

"Fecal contamination of crops by feces from contaminated animals such as beef cattle—such as it being applied to fields as a fertilizer—can be a source of E. coli O157 in produce," explains Doyle. "Such a practice may also be a source of E. coli O157 on soybeans, but this has yet to be confirmed."

The CDC recommends that people don't eat I.M. Healthy Original Creamy SoyNut Butter, or any product that could be coated with the spread, such as granola. If you've eaten either and experience symptoms of E. coli infection—abdominal cramping, diarrhea, fatigue, or fever, to name a few—you should seek immediate medical attention.

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