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Hiland Dairy Faces Lawsuit After Sanitizers in Chocolate Milk Blistered Teenage Patient

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Hiland Dairy Faces Lawsuit After Sanitizers in Chocolate Milk Blistered Teenage Patient

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An Oklahoma mother filed suit against Hiland Dairy after her 16-year-old daughter suffered burns and blisters in her throat and mouth after drinking chocolate milk.

At the time of the injury, the teenager was hospitalized at SSM Health St. Anthony for unrelated medical issues when she was given the milk to drink. The painful symptoms began shortly thereafter, and she is currently being monitored for the potential development of ulcers in her stomach and intestines.

On January 17, 2021 Hiland Dairy recalled some of their 1% low fat chocolate milk for containing food-grade sanitizers.

Synergex is a sanitizer used in dairies, dairy farms, breweries, wineries and more to kill bacteria and keep surfaces and processing equipment clean. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns of this disinfectant's corrosive nature, stating that it could cause “irreversible eye damage and skin burns. May be fatal if absorbed through the skin. Harmful if swallowed.” Unsurprisingly, the physical ramifications of drinking chocolate milk contaminated with such a powerful chemical are both painful and frightening. The attorney representing this injured patient expressed concern that the blisters this patient suffered due to the chemical may require the insertion of a feeding tube for her to get the nutrition she needs.

The teenager addressed in this particular lawsuit was not the only pediatric patient affected by the dangerous milk.

Upon the start of the teenager’s symptoms, the hospital quickly began searching for a cause and when the recall was issued days later disposed of all chocolate milk in the facility. The hospital issued a statement saying that, “Fifty patients on three patient care units, all minors, consumed contaminated milk. After a medical evaluation of each patient and based on the severity of their symptoms, twenty-eight were transferred to Oklahoma Children’s Hospital to be evaluated and monitored by a pediatric gastroenterology specialist.”

The family is seeking more than $75,000 in damages on behalf of this injured patient.

Not only has this patient’s initial treatment and recovery for unrelated health conditions been delayed, but she will now need to receive additional treatment and monitoring due to the severe burns and blisters caused by the contaminated milk. The $75,000 sought in this lawsuit would go to compensate for the past and ongoing medical treatment this patient will need to undergo, her pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, and other related expenses arising from the situation. The lawyer handling this case made the point that especially in regard to child injuries, it’s important to look forward and predict how the injury will continue to affect the child ten, twenty, or more years in the future.

The recall applies to Hiland Dairy’s one-half pint 1% low fat chocolate milk sold across Oklahoma and Texas.

The only products said to be affected by this recall contain the plant code #4025; the full recall notice can be found here. Hiland Dairy issued a statement announcing that they are partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the issue and comply with all necessary recall procedures. If you suspect you or your child have ingested contaminated milk or any other potentially contaminated substance, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222 to determine your next steps.

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