Heinz Additive Blamed for Another Baby Death
CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - A baby died and six more became sick with a rare intestinal disorder after eating Heinz's Simply Thick food additive, the babies' parents claim in court.
Lead plaintiffs Jason and Monica Byers sued Simply Thick, H.J. Heinz Co., Thermo Pac and Ameriqual Group in St. Louis County Court.
The suit is almost identical to one filed in the same court in June. In that case, three sets of parents claimed their babies died, and two that their infants got sick.
The parents claim their babies contracted necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) from eating food with contaminated Simply Thick additive.
"NEC is the death of intestinal tissue," the lawsuit states. "It is a disease that results in feeding intolerance, increased gastric residuals, abdominal distension, bloody stools, and can progress to include intestinal ischemia, leading to intestinal perforation, which may require surgery and intensive medical support. NEC has a mortality rate of 25 percent, and it can cause severe lifelong impairment in children who survive. For those who do survive, the consequences flowing from NEC may not be known for years. These complications include malnutrition from limited intestinal absorptive surface, anaemia, biliary dysfunction, rickets, cholelithiasis, and endocarditis."
The parents claim Heinz's decision to switch to a cheaper, unapproved "cold-fill" process and stop using sodium benzoate in Simply Thick increased the risks that it would harbor dangerous microorganisms.
They claim the cold-fill process, which is 30 percent cheaper than the hot-fill process, was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was not capable of fully sterilizing the Simply Thick product.
Similar complaints have been filed around the country. Courthouse News first reported on the complaints in October 2012; more than a dozen related lawsuits have been filed so far.
The parents seek actual and punitive damages for product liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, negligent misrepresentation, wrongful death, violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act and loss of consortium.
They are represented by Gonzalo Fernandez with Devereaux, Stokes, Nolan, Fernandez & Leonard in St. Louis.
Representatives for St. Louis-based Simply Thick were not available for comment Thursday.