We truly believed and trusted it was a safe, healthy snack for our kids.
In late April, our two-year-old triplet daughter, Sydney became very ill. She ran a fever over 105 degrees for days and began having diarrhea which five days later turned into bowel movements full of blood.
She couldn’t eat and we could barely keep her hydrated. She lost 2.5 pounds — which is a big deal for a 20-month old baby who only weighs 24 pounds to start. Her diarrhea was so frequent she couldn’t sleep. For days, she would grab onto us, scream, cry and jerk. We imagine this was due to sharp, painful cramps. Her diaper rash was so bad her skin was broken and blistered.
Our son Cole began having symptoms one week later. Although his illness did not cause the same hemorrhaging that Sydney’s did; he did have a very high fever, bloody stool, severe diaper rash like Sydney’s and loss of appetite and sleep.
It was confirmed by a lab that two of our children had Salmonella poisoning. State regulations mandated that the entire family be tested. Fortunately, our other son, Michael tested negative, as did the both of us. However, we were advised to not have our children in contact with other kids since the poisoning could be easily spread. We couldn’t go to birthday parties. We couldn’t go to swim lessons or be in shared pools or tubs. We had to bathe the children separately and use gloves when changing diapers. Our friends who were pregnant could not come into our home or be near our children for fear of spreading the Salmonella to the unborn baby. We were completely isolated.
The isolation lasted for over 3 months. In late June we learned the answer to our question, No, we didn’t do this to our children. A snack food called Veggie Booty had been identified as the source of this very rare strain of Salmonella. So rare in fact, that this strain had not been seen since the 1970’s when 8 babies in Hong Kong became ill. We learned that the Salmonella came from a spice that Veggie Booty imports from China. We had no idea that this product- located in the organic section, a gourmet, high-priced, product- was getting ingredients from China. We truly believed and trusted it was a safe, healthy snack for our kids.
It also never occurred to us that people were fighting for food safety. After our children’s illness we looked to find out how we could make a change. This is when we found S.T.O.P. We were so angry and needed to do something with that anger. When we contacted S.T.O.P. and learned more about the organization, they asked how they could help us. We replied, “Give us a way to help this cause.” The members at S.T.O.P. have educated us in many ways about food safety. They have shared insights on how to be “safer and smarter” when purchasing foods — but most of all, they reassured us that this was not our fault.
It is now our turn to help them. We are helping to return the favor. Please help us reach our goal to support S.T.O.P.