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Gas Station Cheese Allegedly Filling Up People with Botulism
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Summary: A Sacramento-based gas station is allegedly making people sick with its nacho cheese. 

Gas station food isn’t known to be healthy, but one California gas station is allegedly giving people a mad case of botulism. The family of Lavinia Kelly, from Sacramento, said that after eating nacho cheese from a local station, she was hospitalized for three weeks with the rare form of food poisoning. According to The Sacramento Bee, she is now suing for negligence, product liability and breach of implied warranty.


On April 21, Kelly, 33, had just gotten off work when she pulled into the gas station, Valley Oak Food, to grab a snack. She opened a bag of Doritos chips and covered it with gooey yellow nacho cheese sauce. Her partner, Ricky Torres, told the Sacramento Bee that within hours, Kelly felt tired, and the next morning she complained of double vision. She went to the Sutter Medical Center before being sent home early from work.

Torres said that during the evening, Kelly had difficulty breathing and was throwing up. Torres drove his partner to the hospital, where they discovered she had been poisoned with botulism. She is currently in intensive care.

“We’re just trying to figure out what happened. Now I spend most of time at the hospital, I’m just trying to get answers. … She’s been doing good, and we just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese. Really? How does that happen?” Torres said. “(The gas station) should have been more aware. They’re handling that stuff every day. I know they probably didn’t make the cheese per se, but they handle that stuff in the store.”

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Earlier this month, the county’s health department revoked the gas station’s permit to sell food and drink after ten people who consumed nacho cheese sauce from the station’s store was hospitalized for food poisoning. So far, one person has died, according to CNN.

Botulism is a rare illness that is caused by botulinum bacteria. The bacteria multiplies rapidly in moist, low-oxygen environments and releases a toxin when consumed that causes paralysis and sometimes death. According to the Sacramento Bee, symptoms include vomiting, weakness, blurred vision, and difficulty breathing.

Kelly’s lawyer, Bruce Clark of Marler Clark , said that botulism outbreaks are associated with home canning.

“Only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form,” Clark said to The Sacramento Bee.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.”

Clark did not disclose how much Kelly is seeking in damages, but he said that the family is acquiring a lot of medical bills. He said that in other botulism cases, plaintiffs have been awarded millions.

The California Department of Public Health said that anyone who had bought food at Valley Oak between April 23 and May 5 and had become sick should contact a physician immediately.

What do you think of this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments below.




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