Class Action Lawsuit Filed Vs. ConAgra Over Salmonella in Peanut Butter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee law firm of Craft & Sheppard, P.L.C. here said yesterday it has filed a class action lawsuit against Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods, claiming injury and damages from human ingestion of peanut butter the company manufactured.

ConAgra makes the Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter that were cited as potentially containing salmonella in a warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA linked a number of cases of foodborne illnesses in numerous states to consumption of varying types of Peter Pan peanut butter. The outbreak appears to be ongoing with the first consumer possibly becoming ill in August, 2006, said the law firm filing the suit.

"Consumers should not fear serious illness when they go to their local grocery store," said Perry Craft of Craft & Sheppard in a statement. "Food manufacturers need to be held accountable for their lapse of attention to public safety."

ConAgra said it wouldn't comment on pending litigation.

Spokesperson Stephanie Childs told Progressive Grocer the company is doing all it can to protect consumers' safety and health. The manufacturer initiated a recall of the product bearing the product code 2111 in Mid-February, ceasing production of the product until the source of contamination is found.

"One of the major reasons we initiated the recall is because of our concern for consumers' health and wellness, and their safety," she said. "We did not undertake this 100 percent product recall lightly. From our perspective, the possibility that any consumer could have been harmed by our product is deeply disconcerting. We're quite serious about making sure consumers are aware of the recall, and also about resolving any concerns consumers might have about our products in a fair manner."

ConAgra has yet to resume production at its only peanut butter plant in Sylvester, Ga. The company has said the recall would cost between $50 million and $60 million. Peanut butter typically generates about $150 million in annual sales for ConAgra.
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