A Lusaka woman has sued Pick n Pay Stores and Neelkanth Fresh Foods Limited for selling peanut butter contaminated with high levels of peroxide which is not fit for human consumption.

According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, Friday, Mirriam Katontoka experienced symptoms of abdominal discomfort, intense diarrhoea, vomiting and itching throughout her body after consuming peanut butter purchased from the Pick n Pay Levy Junction outlet.

“Neelkanth Fresh Foods Limited is the manufacturer of Freshpikt peanut butter and various other food products. Pick N Pay Stores Limited is the retailer of Freshpikt peanut butter manufactured by Neelkanth Fresh Foods Limited, among other food products. On September 28, 2017, the plaintiff purchased a jar of Freshpikt peanut butter valued at K21.99 from Pick N Pay Levy mall outlet. The plaintiff consumed the peanut on October 2, 2017. She subsequently began to experience symptoms of abdominal discomfort and succumbed to intense diarrhoea, vomiting, itching throughout her body, as well as swelling of her hands,” the statement of claim read.

Katontoka stated that after she sought medical treatment at Kanyama Medium Hospital, she was found to be suffering from Acute Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhoea, and allergic Dermatitis.

“On October 3, 2017, the plaintiff sought medical treatment for these symptoms at Kanyama Medium Hospital where she was found to be suffering from Acute Gastroenteritis and allergic Dermatitis and was treated for the same. Upon narrowing down what the plaintiff had ingested, she was advised to subject samples of the peanut butter to Lusaka City Council for testing to determine if it was the peanut butter, which had caused Acute Gastroenteritis and allergic Dermatitis. The plaintiff took the peanut butter to the Health Department at Lusaka City Council and it was subjected to laboratory testing,” the claim read in part.

“On October 12, 2017 the Health Department at Lusaka City Council produced the findings of the laboratory tests conducted on the peanut butter. The findings were that the peanut butter contained high levels of peroxide, which did not comply with the standard set by the Zambia Bureau of Standards, and not fit for human consumption. The analysis confirmed the suspicion that Freshpikt peanut butter had indeed caused the illness suffered by the plaintiff,” she stated.

Katontoka disclosed that despite her availing the reports and findings to the defendants, they had continued to deny any responsibility.

“After making these findings the plaintiff went to Pick N Pay to report her complaint to the branch manager, but was informed that Pick N Pay was not the manufacturer of the product and could, therefore, not bear any responsibility for the injury she had suffered. Despite the plaintiff availing both defendants with the reports and the findings of the Public Health Department and Kanyama clinic, as well as the receipt from the retailer, the defendants have continued to deny responsibility and keep requesting for more proof of the plaintiff’s claim besides the laboratory tests and doctors findings, which associated the illness suffered by the plaintiff to the peanut butter that she consumed,” read the claim.

“The plaintiff through her advocates sought to resolve this issue amicably with both the manufacturer and retailer of the peanut butter but all efforts have been in vein as Neelkanth Fresh Foods Limited insists on conducting its own tests and investigations independent of the findings of the Food and Drugs laboratory despite being informed that the peanut butter jar is currently being held in the custody of Food and Drugs Laboratory. Similarly, Pick N Pay despite being availed with the the receipt showing that the product was purchased from its retail outlet, has insisted on being availed with more evidence.”

Katontoka stated that she had suffered loss, injury and severe mental anguish as a result of the defendant’s negligence and sought to be compensated for her injuries.

She is now claiming for damages for breach of duty of care by the defendants, damages for personal injury and mental anguish, interest, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.