As a product liability attorney in St. Louis, I’ve seen many food products make people sick, with the effects sometimes deadly.
A recent article from The New York Times caught my eye, as it’s a surprising health risk that many of us don’t ever worry about.
Contaminated meat and poultry are often the source of salmonella food poisoning, identified by diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps twelve to seventy-two hours after the meal. So how could a vegetarian contract the infection?
Scientists have now identified a large outbreak of salmonella in tempeh, the popular meat substitute.
Almost 100 people in five states contracted the infection from tempeh last year. The tainted ingredients within the product were imported from Indonesia.
Tempeh is make from fermented soybeans and is typically pasteurized and cooked before it is eaten. The products causing the salmonella poisoning, however, were not pasteurized and were made with a tainted starter culture. The company that makes the tempeh, Smiling Hara, voluntarily recalled the product.
Most of the people who became infected were likely victims of cross-contamination, meaning they never even ate the tainted tempeh. Chefs likely treated the meat substitute as a vegetable, preparing it on cutting boards used for fresh vegetables. They then neglected to clean their knives or hands after handling the tempeh.
If the cooking had involved chicken, for example, most cooks would immediately wash their hands and equipment after handling the meat. Tempeh, however, was not really considered a source of contamination.
If you have been the victim of food poisoning or have suffered because of the defects of another product, contact an experienced product liability attorney for advice.