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Lawsuit Targets Superior Meats in Pig Ear Salmonella Case


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Superior Meats, a specialty meat market in Douglas County, Wis., has been hit with a lawsuit regarding the recent pig ear Salmonella outbreak. The lawsuit was filed Aug. 30 by Ron Simon & Associates, a law firm specializing in food safety, on behalf of dog owner Dax Orr.

Orr purchased the pig ears from the locally owned and operated meat market on or about May 28 for his dogs Cowboy, Harley and Allie, according to officials at Ron Simon & Associates. Within days, the dogs were experiencing extreme diarrhea, officials said. By June 3, Orr was also ill from handling the contaminated pig ears, and was hospitalized for five days, diagnosed with salmonellosis, officials added.

To date, there have been 143 human cases of salmonellosis, reported from 35 states, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). No deaths have been reported.

The two agencies began investigating the multi-state outbreak of Salmonella in June, and on July 3, issued a warning concerning the link between pig ear treats and human cases of salmonellosis. That same day, Pet Supplies Plus, a chain with headquarters in Livonia, Mich., notified the public about a recall of all bulk pig ear products supplied to all its retail locations by several different vendors, including Lennox Intl. Inc. The Edison, N.J.-based vendor issued its own statement late July.

On Aug. 16, Dog Goods USA LLC, a distributor in Tobyhanna, Pa., announced a recall of non-irradiated bulk and packaged Chef Toby Pig Ears, and on Aug. 27, Brutus & Barnaby in Clearwater, Fla., recalled all variations of its Pig Ear Natural Treats for Dogs.

While the human cases have been linked to pig ears imported from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, these pig ears do not account for all the illnesses in this outbreak, according to FDA officials.

“Pig ears in bulk bins (not packaged or wrapped) may be comingled from multiple sources which does not allow the products to be distinguished,” FDA officials said. “In addition, effective product irradiation may not have occurred for bulk products and for packaged or individually wrapped products.”

Ron Simon, who represents Orr and others affected by the pig ear Salmonella outbreak, said, “It is a shame that so many pet owners have become sick simply by serving these treats to their pets.  These pet owners had no way to know they were handling such a dangerous product. Through this lawsuit and others, we will find out how the pig ears became contaminated and make sure it will not happen again.”

Simon and his law firm have established a Salmonella Claim Center here.

The FDA and CDC continue to advise pet retailers and distributors to stop selling pig ear treats. The agencies also continue to recommend that people avoid purchasing or feeding any pig ear treats at this time.

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