Woman claims spinach smoothies caused stillbirth, sues grocery store

  • A woman had a stillbirth after consuming spinach contaminated with listeria, a lawsuit has heard.
  • Listeria can cause listeriosis, which is more common and more dangerous during pregnancy.
  • About 22% of cases of listeriosis during pregnancy result in stillbirth or death of the newborn.

A Philadelphia woman who suffered a stillbirth says baby spinach she added to her smoothies a few days prior is to blame, a new lawsuit has heard.

The spinach, made by Fresh Express, was contaminated with Listeria, although the woman was unaware of this at the time, according to the lawsuit.

Listeria, a bacteria that causes the disease Listeriosis, is much more likely – and much more dangerous – during pregnancy and is a known cause of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The woman, identified by NBC News as 25-year-old Mecca Shabazz, is suing Fresh Express and the grocery store for “wrongful death of the unborn child, bodily injury and emotional stress of the expectant mother,” the statement said. press releases from the law firm. said.

“In addition to the tragic loss of this baby, we are fighting to raise awareness among the public who blindly rely on food manufacturers and distributors to provide clean, safe and uncontaminated food products,” said attorney Julianna Merback Burdo. , partner of Wapner Newman’s Catastrophic. Injury Practice, said in the release.

“Safety in the food chain must start with those who process, package, transport and sell food to us,” added Merback Burdo.

Shabazz was quarantined at home with COVID-19 when she consumed the spinach

Shabazz, then more than 30 weeks pregnant, went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms on December 11, 2021. Doctors confirmed the fetus was healthy and sent her home to quarantine, says the press release.

While she was resting, her grandmother bought Fresh Express baby spinach from Fresh Grocer for Shabazz to use in smoothies.

On December 15, Shabazz returned to the hospital bleeding and having painful contractions. There, providers found no fetal movement or heartbeat, and Shabazz delivered the stillborn baby the same day, according to the lawsuit.

An autopsy confirmed that the sole cause of death was due to Listeria.

Five days later, Fresh Express announced a “precautionary recall” on its leafy greens days due to an outbreak of listeria in Pennsylvania and other states. The recall included baby spinach eaten by the mother, according to the lawsuit.

The baby would have been the first for Shabazz and her husband. “That baby could have been born the day before we ate that spinach and survived and thrived,” Burdo told NBC.

Fresh Express and its parent company, Chiquita Brands International, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Listeria is dangerous during pregnancy

Listeria is a “big problem in pregnancy” and a known cause of stillbirth, Dr. Stephanie Ros, an obstetrician-gynecologist and maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Florida, told Insider.

This is why pregnant women are advised to stay away from foods that are more likely to be affected, such as cold cuts, soft cheese and raw sprouts. Spinach is not a food pregnant women are typically told to avoid; in fact, it’s promoted as an excellent source of folic acid, which can help prevent miscarriages.

According to the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Specifically, pregnant women are 20 times more likely to be infected than healthy non-pregnant adults, and approximately 17% of pregnant patients contract listeriosis.

The infection can be transmitted to the fetus and lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and low birth weight, the organization reports.

Newborns with listeriosis who survive birth can suffer breathing problems, fever, rash, lethargy, and even death.

Pregnant women who have listeriosis with symptoms such as fever should be treated with IV antibiotics, the ACOG says.

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