Dec. 2003 – Photographer sues D.M. food company over tainted punch

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Des Moines Register. Jeff Eckhoff. December 22, 2003.

Crime & Courts

Photographer sues D.M. food company over tainted punch

Wedding punch that poisoned the photographer could end up costing plenty for the food company that fouled up an Ankeny reception.

The photographer at Erin and Mark Davis' March nuptials last week sued Des Moines-based Todd's Ltd., blaming the food company for supplying unfit punch that allegedly caused ongoing medical problems for Sherry Beattie.

Beattie, a photographer at the March 8 wedding, last week filed Polk County court papers seeking cash compensation for her physical suffering, as well as for the loss of consortium with her husband and son.

"She's got severe migraine headaches and some blurred vision," said Don Beattie, an attorney whose cousin, Gary, is Sherry Beattie's husband. "They've more or less told her that there's nothing they can do for her. She's got to live with it."

Sherry Beattie was one of more than 100 guests at the Davis wedding who became sick after sampling punch during a reception in the Ankeny Baptist Church.

State health investigators later identified a problem with the punch mix Todd's provided to the wedding caterer. Authorities believe sodium nitrate, a meat preservative, was accidentally substituted for citric acid, a key punch ingredient.

The mix-up resulted in about 60 wedding guests being treated in emergency rooms for methemoglobinemia, a rare form of blood poisoning that causes headaches, low blood pressure, dizziness, vomiting and shortness of breath.

Officials at Todd's, which has been in business in 1926, apologized for their mistake earlier this year.

Alan Niedermeier, president of Todd's, could not be reached for comment.