ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Salmonella-infected Chicken is not a "Defective" Product

Salmonella-infected raw chicken meat is not “defective” under Maine law.  Anyone selling such meat also do not violate the implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  This is so even if tons of meat have been recalled by a manufacturer precisely because of a salmonella outbreak affecting the meat. Such held the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently. Unknown

The result may seem both incredibly gross and grotesque, but in a strange way, makes sense.  In the case, a raw food manufacturer sold almost 2 million pounds of raw meat to a food processor preparing chicken products such as frozen chicken cordon bleu products.  The manufacturer recalled the meat, causing losses to the processor in excess of $10 million.  The processor filed suit for breach of contract.  Both the trial and appellate courts held that the processor had failed to state a claim under F.R.C.P. 12(b)(6).

Why?  Because salmonella is an “inherent, unavoidable, and recognized component of raw chicken that is eliminated by proper cooking methods.”  Even though the recall admitted that the recall was adulterated with salmonella, the complaint did not allege that the chicken was contaminated with a form of salmonella that could notbe eliminated by proper cooking.  The sick consumers could have contracted the infections from merely touching the raw meat. Images

This shows the relatively low level of sanitary integrity that can be expected in today’s meat market. Bon Appetit! 

The case is Scarlett v. Air Methods Corporation, 2019 WL 1828908

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