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Doctor, 98, Sues Over Listeria - Philadelphia Daily News - November 4, 2002

By: Kitty Caparella
Philadelphia Daily News
November 4, 2002

Dr. Frank Niemtozow, 98, the retired obstetrician who delivered Bruce Springsteen, today will have another footnote to history medical history.

Niemtozow, of Rittenhouse Square, became sickened from eating turkey cold cuts and spent two months in a hospital. Released Oct. 1, he has become the oldest survivor of the outbreak of listeria in mid-July.

Today, Niemtozow will be named as the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride, manufacturer of the contaminated turkey and other poultry products processed at the the Wampler Foods plant in Franconia, Montgomery County.

He doesn’t care about the money, said Chicago attorney Kenneth B. Moll, who is filing the suit in Philadelphia Common Please Court in conjunction with the Berger & Montague law firm here.

He wants to prevent this from happening again, said Moll. He wants to make sure the government changes its rules to become more stringent.

Niemtozow apparently ate the turkey sandwich in July or early August. When he was hospitalized on Aug. 9, doctors were not sure what he had, said Moll. He was referred to an infectious disease specialist, who diagnosed listeriosis.

The strain of Niemtozow’s listeria was traced to Pilgrim’s Pride turkey, manufactured at the Franconia plant.

Since mid-July, the listeria outbreak has killed seven people and sickened at least 50 others in eight northeastern states, including Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

On Oct. 12, Pilgrim’s Pride, which processes turkey pastrami, turkey ham, frankfurters, chicken salad, and other ready-to-eat meat products, was forced to recall 27 million pounds of its poultry products, the largest meat recall in U.S. history.

Since January, federal inspectors cited Wampler 40 times after finding cockroaches, moldy pipes, leftover food particles on conveyor belts and water leaking onto meat during inspections.

Dr. Garry McKee, administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called the Wampler recall a wake-up call for the industry.

McKee warned consumers to check their refrigerators for any ready-to-eat poultry products, especially after a second Philadelphia area processing plant was linked to the listeria outbreak.

On Saturday, the Jack Lambersky Poultry Co., in Camden, began recalling 200,000 pounds of its products after tests showed some meats were contaminated during processing between June 27 and July 3 by a strain of listeria that infected several people.

Lambersky has been fined $210,000 in the past five years.

In November 1997, his company entered a plea agreement and was fined $200,000 for falsely representing the amount of water-based solution that had been added to 10,000 pounds of poultry products, and for the felonious failure to report $80,000 in income.

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