A South Carolina-based family farming operation has filed a complaint seeking damages that it alleges were sustained in 2008 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a nationwide recall of round tomatoes due to a purported Salmonella outbreak. Seaside Farm, Inc. v. United States, No. 11-1199 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D.S.C., Beaufort Div., filed May 18, 2011). The plaintiff claims that independent audits before the recall was announced verified that its produce and practices were safe.
Still, according to the complaint, “At the time of the recall, the FDA had not positively identified a single tomato as a current source of the salmonella outbreak in the United States” and “The FDA never identified any contaminated tomatoes and ultimately conceded that tomatoes were not the source of the salmonella contamination.” Claiming that the recall “decimated the market price for fresh tomatoes,” the plaintiff seeks unspecified general and special compensatory damages and interest under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The farming operation alleges negligence, violations of the Takings Clause and the South Carolina Uniform Trade Practices Act, and defamation.