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October 22 is National Nut Day, which many of us will celebrate with trail mixes, pb and j sandwiches, and that perfect delicacy, boiled peanuts. But not everyone can enjoy nuts like the rest of us.
Nut allergies and salmonella outbreaks have made nuts dangerous in recent years, so who can be held responsible for allergic reactions and illnesses from nut consumption? Here are some legal aspects to consider:
Incidents of peanut allergies, especially in children, seem to be increasing over the last two decades. And the symptoms of an allergic reaction can be severe: everything from itchiness, swelling, and sneezing to abdominal pain, cardiac arrest, and even anaphylaxis. For this reason, food processors and manufacturers must carefully label their products and whether foods include nuts or have come into contact with food processing equipment used for nuts.
If a product lacks adequate warning labels, the manufacturer could be held responsible under product liability law. Food manufacturers are required to warn consumers of hidden dangers in their products, like the presence of nuts or nut contaminants.
As much as allergies have placed nuts front and center, so have some recent salmonella outbreaks at peanut processing plants. Earlier this year, Trader Joe's was forced to issue two recalls for peanuts and walnuts regarding salmonella contamination scares. And earlier this month executives and managers at a peanut processing plant were sentenced to serious prison time for their roles in a 2009 outbreak that sickened over 700 people and killed nine.
The best advice this National Nut Day is to celebrate responsibly. Make sure you're not allergic to nuts, and keep an eye out for nut recalls.