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Contaminated dog food in New Jersey leads to federal lawsuit

Every day Mt. Laurel residents shop for and buy products that, without proper oversight, could be potentially dangerous. But because of state and federal laws, most people feel completely safe when they use or consume the products they buy. What happens, though, when someone becomes sick or injured through the use of a defective product? This is where product liability laws come into play.

Recently in Trenton, a federal lawsuit was filed alleging that a young child became ill due to his contact with dog food that was contaminated with salmonella. Diamond Pet Foods produces the pet product that has left at least 15 people ill. A recall the dog food was announced in early April.

The federal suit was filed on May 25, a little more than a month after a 2-month-old baby fell ill. The child suffered from a fever, loss of appetite and diarrhea. After a visit with his pediatrician, the infant was sent to St. Peter's University Hospital for care. During his three days in the hospital, he was eventually diagnosed with salmonella. In particular, the child tested positive for salmonella infantis, the strain of salmonella that was linked with the recalled dog food.

The father of the child stated that he had bought a bag of dog food at a Costco store in New Jersey. The product was made by Diamond Pet Foods.

While not specified in the complaint, it is possible that the baby was exposed to the salmonella in the dog food through contact with his parents, as it has been shown that merely handling contaminated food can cause a person to become infected.

Neither the parents nor their dog got sick, and the particular bag of dog food in question tested negative for salmonella. However, it could be that the negative result came because the contamination was not spread evenly throughout the bag.

Sadly, the infant suffer injuries so severe that he is now at risk of liver and kidney damage, for which he will have to be monitored in the future.

This unfortunate case should remind New Jersey residents of the possible dangers associated with defective products. Recalls should be taken seriously, and people who have been injured because of a defective product should be aware of their rights under our state's personal injury laws.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Suit alleges infant got salmonella from contact with dog food," Mary Pat Gallagher, June 4, 2012

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