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Heinz additive sold in Illinois stores blamed for baby deaths

Like watchful parents anywhere in the U.S., Aurora, Joliet and Naperville parents vigilantly safeguard their children. Some child hazards are less obvious than others. Most Illinois parents, accustomed to quality U.S. food processing standards, would never question the safety of food made for babies.

Laws protect consumers from defective products. Harm often occurs before danger is detected. Civil courts permit victims and victims' families to file claims for compensation which cover illnesses, injuries and deaths caused by negligent manufacturers' products.

Over a dozen lawsuits have been filed nationwide against H.J. Heinz Co. and companies related to the manufacture and processing of Simply Thick, an additive for baby food.

The product liability complaints allege the plaintiffs' infants were sickened or killed by a rare intestinal disease, necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC, after ingesting the additive. The babies suffered what court papers said was "the death of intestinal tissue," a life-threatening condition that sometimes, but not always, can be treated with extensive medical care or surgery.

According to the plaintiffs' petitions, one in four babies diagnosed with NEC die. Infants who survive may face long-term and possibly lifelong medical issues, including food absorption problems, anemia and heart conditions.

The parents believe Heinz chose to employ a short-cut in baby food processing to save money. The company changed the way it processed Simply Thick from a hot to cold method and eliminated sodium benzoate from the product. The new process, which reportedly made the additive vulnerable to harmful microorganisms, was not U.S. government approved.

The recent complaint was the latest personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against Heinz. The first filing was reported about a year ago.

The victims of some defective products are too young to seek a court's help for their pain and suffering. Parents of minors who are injured or die by negligence may be eligible for significant damage awards.

Source:  courthousenews.com, "Heinz Additive Blamed for Another Baby Death" Joe Harris, Sep. 13, 2013

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