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Apple recall illustrates product liability delay dangers

A recent news story is an unfortunate follow-up to our post about product recalls. It involves food – one of the most difficult situations to deal with thanks to the worldwide supply of present day. New Jersey supermarkets provide countless items grown and shipped from across the country and around the world. Tracking a dangerous product is time-consuming and likely an inexact process.

In this case, the Federal Drug Administration has narrowed down a strain of listeria bacteria that is associated with seven deaths and dozens of illnesses to one also found in an apple processing plant on the West Coast. Reports are the culprits causing illness to most of the victims were packaged, caramel apples offered in retail outlets between October and December of 2014.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 32 people fell ill and seven died across 11 states. Listeriosis primarily affects the elderly, newborns, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune system.

The FDA investigation led officials to the processing plant – a family-owned business reportedly operating since 1930. It's reported the strains of bacteria found in a retail product traced back to the company. A voluntary recall has been issued for any apples still available in markets and consumers, as is common in these situations, are warned to avoid the products. As we noted previously, however, it can be the time delay from injury one to pinpointing the source with sufficient evidence to require a recall that can increase the victim count.

The fact is that no matter how diligent a manufacturer or processor might be, how thorough an inspector does his job, how strictly government regulations are applied and how diligent a consumer pays attention, dangerous and unsafe products can cause harm. A problem surfaces with someone somewhere before an investigation or recall begins.

We consumers have a right to expect safety in the marketplace. The reality is, however, that someone who faces the initial danger also has the right to seek compensation from responsible parties. It doesn't matter if the unsafe condition is a result of negligence or accident. The injured have legal options that may be what they need to recover and move on with their lives.

Source: Reuters, "California apple plant linked to deadly listeria outbreak: FDA" Jan. 10, 2015

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