Delayed disclosure of manufacturer in E. Coli outbreak of peanut-allergy substitute product

Among the many things emerging this week related to the E. Coli outbreak related to the total recall of the SoyNut Butter Company’s peanut-allergy substitute products: the actual manufacturer. More victims emerged as the Centers for Disease Control raised the number of E. Coli infected to 20 children and three adults over nine states. A fifth lawsuit from E. coli victims emerged, filed Monday by the parents of a Seattle-area little girl who is one of the 10 outbreak victims to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure. That lawsuit, the fourth in this outbreak filed by the firms Newland & Newland and Marler Clark, names Kentucky-based Dixie Dew Products as the contracted manufacturer.

23 cases of E. coli infection according to the CDC

20 people who had contact with I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter or I.M. Healthy granola coated with SoyNut Butter according to the CDC investigation

Dixie Dew, which didn’t respond to e-mails from the Miami Herald, says on its website that the the company made several products consumers know. 

“Though we produce many nationally known products, client confidentiality is of extreme importance to all parties and prevents us naming names. In addition to dessert toppings and sauces, Dixie Dew Products Inc. manufactures marinara sauces, meat glazes, dry mix products and a variety of specialty products.”

Contracted manufacturing is common among mass-market food products. For example, a 2006 salmonella outbreak caused the recall of two brands of peanut butter, Peter Pan and Walmart’s Great Value, because they were the same product made by ConAgra. It’s less common among niche products, such as allergen substitutes.

“There should be full disclosure of all manufacturers and all retailers when a recall happens – especially when illnesses are involved,” food safety lawyer Bill Marler said.

FDA spokesman Peter Cassell said, “The FDA can confirm that the agency is investigating the SoyNut Butter Co. and its contract manufacturer. At this time, no other products have been recalled by the contract manufacturer. The current recall of SoyNut Butter Co. products remains in effect and we have no evidence at this time challenging the effectiveness of this recall. The agency is determining next steps in the investigation and will provide new information when it becomes available.”

20 minors among the infected

10 people who developed HUS, a form of kidney failure that predominantly affects children