Woman Claims Spinach Smoothies Caused Stillbirths, Sues Grocery Store

  • A woman suffered a stillbirth after consuming spinach contaminated with listeria, a lawsuit claims.
  • Listeria can cause listeriosis, which is more common and more dangerous during pregnancy.
  • About 22% of cases of listeriosis in 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 earlier is to blame, according to a new lawsuit.

The spinach, made by Fresh Express, was contaminated with Listeria, although the woman did not know this at the time, the lawsuit says.

Listeria, a bacteria that causes the illness 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 Mecca Shabazz, 25, is suing Fresh Express and the grocery store for “wrongful death of the fetus and bodily injury and emotional distress of the expectant mother,” according to the firm’s press release. of lawyers. she says she.

“In addition to the tragic loss of this baby, we are fighting to raise awareness among the public who blindly trust food manufacturers and distributors to provide clean, safe and uncontaminated food products,” said Attorney Julianna Merback Burdo, Partner at Catastrophic. by Wapner Newman. Injury practice, she said in the statement.

“Safety within the food chain must start with those who process, pack, transport and sell food,” added Merback Burdo.

Shabazz was quarantined at home with COVID-19 when he ate the spinach

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

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, the suit says.

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

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

The baby would have been the first for Shabazz and her husband. “This baby could have been born the day before this spinach was consumed 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 in 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.

That’s why pregnant women are advised to stay away from foods that are most likely to be affected, such as cold cuts, soft cheese, and raw sprouts. Spinach is not a food that pregnant people are normally told to avoid; in fact, it’s recommended as a great source of folic acid, which can help prevent miscarriages.

While healthy people who accidentally eat listeria-infected food don’t usually get sick, people with compromised immune systems, including pregnant women, are more likely to get listeriosis and become seriously ill, 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 about 17% of pregnant patients develop listeriosis.

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

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

Pregnant women who have listeriosis with symptoms that include a fever should be treated with intravenous antibiotics, ACOG says.

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