A pair of Alberta-based law firms say they’ve filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of people, including a B.C. woman, who bought or consumed a popular brand of flour that’s been linked to illnesses from E. coli.
James H. Brown and Associates and Higgerty Law say they’re seeking damages from Smucker Foods of Canada Corp. following a national recall of 10-kilogram bags of Robin Hood Original All Purpose Flour.
A statement of claim says the representative plaintiff lives in Victoria, B.C., and became so sick after eating cookie dough that her kidneys began shutting down.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall in Western Canada for the flour late last month, and the Public Health Agency of Canada says an outbreak of E. coli O121 has been linked to the flour.
The health agency says there have been 26 cases of people being infected with the bacteria in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.
No deaths have been reported, but at least six people required hospital care.
The recall applies to flour with a best-before date of April 17, 2018 (2018 AL 17) and the production code 6 291 548.
No one from the company could be immediately reached for comment about the lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for the J.M. Smucker Co., Maribeth Burns, said last week that the recalled flour was produced at a mill in Saskatoon.
Burns said consumers should note public health warnings telling people not to taste raw dough or batter, and that eating a small amount could make people sick.
The lawsuit claims the company breached its duty to safely manufacture goods. It alleges the company was negligent by failing to test its flour thoroughly, and that it failed to recall the tainted flour immediately upon learning people were becoming ill.
It also says the company failed to adopt technological advances in laboratory testing for flour, lacked adequate procedures for cleaning equipment and didn’t train staff properly for food handling.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The lawsuit says it seeks compensation for physical and emotional injury and lost wages. It also seeks a refund for consumers who bought the flour.
Food contaminated with E. coli may not look or smell spoiled, but can still make people sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea.
The bacteria can be found in the lower intestines of animals and people.
The food agency said it is investigating the source of the E. coli.