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Judge refuses to dismiss claims against Kellogg in tainted cracker case

By Jane Byrne , 24-Mar-2011
Last updated the 25-Mar-2011 at 16:11 GMT

A federal judge in the US has, in the main, refused to dismiss a proposed suit alleging that Kellogg did not adhere to consumer protection laws and contravened an implied warranty by selling salmonella-tainted peanut butter crackers.

According to a filing of the US District Court for the Central District of California, the presiding judge has ruled that plaintiff Anthony Benavides has sufficiently alleged that Kellogg has violated California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA).

The judgement to refuse case dismissal said that although the plaintiff fails to state a CLRA claim based on Kellogg's purported misrepresentations and nondisclosures, he has “alleged a sufficient claim based on defendants’ alleged manufacture and sale of contaminated products.”

The court therefore said it denies Kellogg's motion to dismiss the suit’s CLRA claim.

In his suit, filed in March last year, the plaintiff claims that he bought peanut butter crackers made and marketed by Kellogg that used peanuts supplied by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009 in which more than 700 people became ill and nine died.

The outbreak led to a massive recall of peanut products – one of the largest food product recalls in US history - and PCA, which has been the target of multiple lawsuits, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in February 2009.

Benavides alleges, in the suit, that Kellogg manufactured and sold the crackers “using processes and quality control measures that were grossly inadequate for the purpose of ensuring the food products would be safe to eat.”

The complaint shows that when he became aware of the recall, Benavides did not eat the Kellogg crackers but disposed of them.

According to US litigation lawyer, James R Prochnow, the California state statutes are particularly consumer friendly.

Meanwhile, Kellogg told BakeryandSnacks.com that it does not comment about ongoing court cases.