The Parmesan Cheese Lawsuit

A recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest describes a recent legal case from Pennsylvania in which the parmesan cheese produced by Corning was found to contain lead. This follows a long history of contaminated parmesan cheese dating back at more than one hundred years. The contamination occurred when a distributor sent parmesan from Italy to New York without testing or ensuring that the product had been certified as safe for human consumption. As a result, an illness that affects thousands of Italians each year was introduced into the local population. The contaminated parmesan was removed from the market and the company is appealing the court’s decision to reinstate the product.

The Parmesan Cheese Lawsuit

Parmesan has a starchy mixture of whey, fat, calcium and salt that is used to make different cheese products. In the past, it was used as a cheap alternative to traditional cream cheeses. Before the FDA found that lead contamination in cheese was widespread, companies like Kraft Foods, Conagra Foods and Dannon had made efforts to reformulate their cheese to eliminate the presence of lead. At the time of the recall, however, no such attempts had been made. Only when the contaminated parmesan was discovered, was this known to the FDA.

According to attorney Michael Beckwith, who represents the lead plaintiffs in the suit against Kraft Foods, the company was aware of the dangers associated with lead but chose to keep the product on the shelves because it was cheaper than replacing the entire cheese category.

Unfortunately, as people began to realize the extent of the contamination, they began to avoid parmesan cheese as well. The lawsuit continues to seek class action certification on behalf of the thousands of customers who bought the tainted cheese. If the ruling against Corning is sustained, other dairy and cheese manufacturers might be pressured to make similar changes. Furthermore, cheese producers are concerned that the ruling will make it more difficult to collect damages for cases of lead poisoning due to parmesan cheese.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have also determined that the contaminated parmesan was a product of negligence.

Although the FDA has authority to regulate cosmetics and dietary supplements, food is not one of them. The FDA has, however, urged the manufacturers of the recalled products to compensate any victims of the contaminated parmesan for lost wages, medical bills, and future care expenses. In addition, they have instructed the companies to stop selling parmesan in the marketplaces and to refrain from using the brand name in their advertising and marketing efforts.

The lawyers handling the case advise victims to contact their attorneys immediately.

They should not wait until the case is settled before contacting an attorney. This could put their lives in jeopardy, they add. The lawyers should also request money from the company selling the contaminated cheese rather than ask for a financial settlement in the form of a cash advance. This is to ensure that victims can pay for necessary expenses associated with the case, including their representation.

There are two potential outcomes in the case. One is a jury trial and the other is a court of law hearing.

It is advised that the victims do not take the decision on their own but should consult an experienced lawyer to help them make the right decision. The decision about the lawsuit depends on the extent of the damage caused to the plaintiff. The damages could range from thousands of dollars to a few hundred.

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