I Just Want Nacho Cheese on My Chips…Keep the Botulism

I know I have talked about this a lot…most recently on The Jay Alan Show last Friday, but I have to write about it. I think its important to remind everyone how real food-born illness can be. This unsuspecting mom just wanted to add a little cheese to her Doritos and has now spent the last three weeks in a coma.
Lavinia Kelly hasn’t been able to speak or breathe on her own since she was hospitalized three weeks ago with botulism, a rare form of food poisoning that she believes she contracted after eating nacho-cheese sauce sold at a Sacramento area gas station.


Now, the Sacramento woman is suing the gas station due to her ongoing ordeal….well her family is on her behalf at least.

Sacramento County health officials have confirmed five cases of botulism in patients who ate at the Valley Oak Food and Fuel gas station, and are investigating three other probable cases and one suspect case, with all nine patients still hospitalized.

Officials believe the outbreak is linked to nacho cheese sauce that was served at the station, but the exact cause of the poisoning is still under investigation, officials said.

I have worked at a few different food service jobs in my time. A lot of people may not realize it, but most places that have any kind of bulk melted cheese order it on a large, gallon sized can. What can happen with canned foods? Botulism.


Kelly, who was turning 33 on May 17, was driving home from work as an inventory manager on April 21 when she pulled over at the gas station’s small market for a snack.

Earlier this month, county health officials temporarily revoked the gas station’s permit to sell food and drink. I have looked around and haven’t found out why, or what they had to do to be able to sell food again, but obviously whatever was done wasn’t enough.


The family filed a lawsuit against the gas station in Sacramento County Superior Court on Tuesday for negligence, product liability and breach of implied warranty.

Bruce Clark, an attorney at Seattle-based food safety law firm Marler Clark who is working on Kelly’s case, said most botulism outbreaks are associated with home canning, with occurrences at a store extremely rare.

We will use the lawsuit to learn more about the source of the food product that was contaminated. The source of the food product may be unrelated to the gas station; it could be a commercially made, pre-packaged item. That’s an essential question.” The firm’s team has not yet estimated how much in damages the family will seek, but said past botulism cases have been resolved for millions of dollars

It could be unrelated to the gas station, but I find it hard to believe the revoking of the stores ability to sell food and this outbreak are just a coincidence.
I guess we will see…but in the mean time. Maybe just eat your chips without gas station nacho cheese….

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