Judge Grants $33M Default Judgment Against Company Implicated in 2010 Salmonella Outbreak: Daniele International, Inc. v. Wholesome Spice and Seasonings, Inc.

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800px-Salami_aka.jpgAfter an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in late 2009 and early 2010 sickened hundreds of consumers, a Rhode Island meat company sued two of its suppliers for damages resulting from a massive recall of its products. The meat company faced costs from lost business, refunds, and lawsuits by consumers. A federal judge in Rhode Island granted a default judgment against one of the defendants for $33 million. Outbreaks of food poisoning can expose food companies, restaurants, and other businesses that handle food to liability for illness and other damages.

An apparent outbreak of salmonella poisoning began in late 2009. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new cases peaked in November 2009, and reached a total of 272 people in forty-four states by April 2010. The outbreak had a relatively low impact on Connecticut, with only five reported cases. At least forty people nationwide required hospitalization due to the outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that Rhode Island-based Daniele International, Inc. was recalling 1.2 million pounds of salami and other “ready-to-eat” Italian sausage products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) also participated in the investigation. RIDOH allegedly identified the same salmonella strain in spice containers used by Daniele. The containers, consisting of red and black pepper, originated from two companies, New York-based Wholesome Spices and New Jersey-based Mincing Trading Corp. These two companies announced recalls of some of their products as well.