Woman sues Kellogg after contracting sepsis from cereal

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
Kellogg logo

An Oklahoma woman has filed a lawsuit against Kellogg Co. in federal court in Michigan on Thursday, saying she developed sepsis after eating Honey Smacks cereal. 

Attorneys for Winnie Lemieux filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids against Kellogg a week after the company recalled the cereal.  Lemieux said she developed a salmonella infection after eating Honey Smacks.

Kellogg recalled the product on June 14 after being contacted by the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control about reported illnesses potentially linked to the product. 

Officials are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka infections from the sweetened puffed wheat cereal. 

There are 73 people ill with the strain of salmonella in 31 states. Illnesses have been reported since March 3 through May 28. About 24 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the FDA.  

  • Alabama (2), Arizona (1), California (5), Connecticut (3), Georgia (2), Illinois (1), Indiana (3), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (2), Massachusetts (5), Maryland (1), Michigan (4), Mississippi (1), Montana (1), North Carolina (3), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (3), New York (7), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (2), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Virginia (4), Washington (3), Wisconsin (1), West Virginia (3).

Lemieux bought the box from a Walmart in Kansas in May and consumed a bowl of cereal every morning for the following two weeks, her lawyers said. 

She began feeling ill on May 24 and after a week of experiencing symptoms, she was admitted into the hospital on June 3. Lemieux tested positive for salmonella and was diagnosed with infectious colitis and an electrolyte imbalance, as well as being septic, lawyers said. She was discharged five days later.

“Salmonella outbreaks linked to cereal are rare. There have only been a handful in the last 20 years,” said Bill Marler, managing partner at Marler Clark law firm representing Lemieux. 

“While we don’t comment on litigation. We take our commitment to quality and food safety very seriously," the Kellogg Co. said in a statement. "We are saddened to learn about any illness that may result from our Honey Smacks cereal. We will ensure this situation is handled in a responsible and sensitive manner.”

Consumers who have symptoms of salmonella infection should receive care. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most infections usually last four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. Some people, however, develop diarrhea so severe that they need to be hospitalized.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_