"I came home from work and became violently sick in a very short period of time," says Hennessey. "At first it felt like a flu bug along with a nasty headache but it came on so fast that I was pretty sure it was food poisoning.
"I was very nauseous, and one minute I was freezing and the next minute hot—I couldn't find any relief. That lasted a few hours then I got diarrhea, more nausea and dry heaves throughout the night. The only positive thing was that each time I threw up the headaches came down a notch or two.
The next day I thought about what I had to eat but I was running around so much, eating on the run and snacking (even though I eat healthy snacks), I couldn't determine what could have made me sick. I was very sick for three or four days and it was getting to the point where I was thinking about going to ER.
I'm into alternative health so I got out all my books on herbs and homeopathy. I found a herb specifically for food poisoning: lobelia. I barely made it to my local health food store and bought it as a tincture. I put a few drops under my tongue every few hours. I also took a few more herbal remedies along with vitamin C. The combination worked: as soon as I took the lobelia, all my symptoms began to slowly subside.
Over the next week I felt better but still didn't have an appetite -even thinking about food made me feel sick. But I knew I had to eat something, I had to get better; I had to get back to work. I managed to eat soup and drink fresh juices, tea and supplements. I eventually did a full day's work but sweated through it.
The next day I went to my grocery store and bought a bag of Tings—I had eaten a few bags just before I got sick. I opened the bag in the car, took a handful and started chewing them. All of a sudden, the smell hit me: it was like a dirty wet dishrag that had sat around for days. It was so horrible; my stomach started to turn over. My hand smelled like the dishrag. I had to pull over; I thought I was going to throw up on the side of the road.
At that moment a few things occurred to me:
I went to the store to get veggie booty and they were sold out so I bought Tings. The entire display was moved to the back of the store and I thought, something is wrong for them to move the whole display just because they ran out of something. I thought the removal of the whole thing had something to do with me getting sick.
Many years ago I had gotten food poisoning and for a year or two after that I couldn't eat that particular food—bologna. To see it or even talk about it caused my stomach to churn. In that moment, there was this intuitive knowing that it was Tings that gave me food poisoning; there was no question in my mind.
I came home, went online and I saw that Veggie Booty was recalled. And Veggie Tings had also been recalled. Then I sent an e-mail to the address on their website, telling them about my experience. I asked where I can have it tested because there was something wrong with it. They asked me for the numbers on the Tings label and just undoing the wrapping sent me into heaves so I drank some more lobelia and detox tea.
They told me the numbers I had weren't in the recall.
Then I got an e-mail back from the Tings company. They said I would be hearing from their insurance company. I still have the bag, wrapped up tight in my freezer. I still think these Tings should go to a lab—because they are still sitting on the grocery store shelf. I told the grocery store manager but he said that they pulled everything that had been recalled.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWSHow many people have to get sick before something is recalled? Does someone have to die? When I was a kid, everyone smoked. The first person who complained about second hand smoke may not be alive today. People dismissed it - they shoot the messenger. How many people got sick and don't know why? All Tings should have been recalled—it shared the same seasoning.
I lost several days of work. And to see Tings still on the shelf is irresponsible of Robert's American Gourmet. When a recall is handled in this manner, I am mad, this blatant disregard for our health. They had the opportunity to do the right thing and test this other product but they did nothing."
Robert's American Gourmet confirmed that the salmonella source was spice imported from China purchased from Atlantic Quality Spice and Seasonings, a division of Van de Vries Trading Corp., Edison, N.J. The company also confirmed salmonella contamination in Super Veggie Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks—the same seasoning in this product was used in Veggie Booty. According to the FDA, test results of the seasoning tested positive for salmonella contamination.