Woman suing Popeyes says flesh-eating screwworms ate her ‘from the inside out’

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SAN ANTONIO – A Texas woman has a bone to pick with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Karen Goode, of San Antonio, is suing for $1,000,000 after she says rice and beans she ate at Popeyes in spring 2015 were infested with flesh-eating worms, according to KDAF.

In the lawsuit filed in Bexar County, Goode's attorney, Patrick Stolmeier, argues that the franchisee, Z&H Foods, should have known about the screwworms and never served the tainted food to customers.

He also described what Goode allegedly endured after consuming the screwworms:

"Plaintiff purchased rice and beans from Defendants' restaurant that contained flesh eating New World Screwworms, and Plaintiff unknowingly ingested the flesh eating screwworms. The flesh eating screwworms entered Plaintiff's digestive track, laid eggs which embedded in the interior lining of Plaintiff's small intestine, and when hatched, infested Plaintiff's body and began to eat Plaintiff alive from the inside-out."

Screwworms are maggots that infest livestock and other warm-blooded animals, including humans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "After eggs hatch, larvae burrow and feed on flesh, causing severe tissue damage and may even be lethal to the host," according to the USDA website.

Karen Goode survived, but her attorney says she became so ill that she lost her business, house and cars.  According to the lawsuit, Goode has been "ravaged by E. coli" and Helicobacter Pylori, a bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.

She has also suffered injury to her neck, digestive track, shoulders and arm, and had to endure anxiety, pain, anguish and fear, Stolmeier says.

Popeyes spokeswoman Renee Kopkowski responded to the lawsuit in a statement to the Washington Post:

“We don’t discuss details of litigation, but we can tell you that we understand that, while investigating this matter, the franchisee has worked with outside parties who have found the claims to be unfounded and false.  We can also assure you that the side dishes at this local Popeyes and all Popeyes restaurants have a strict standard and are cooked and maintained at 165 degrees Fahrenheit, a temperature that would make it impossible for bacteria or other foreign matter to survive the cooking process."

Kopkowski added in the statement that Popeyes makes food safety its top priority “and we put the safety and welfare of our guests first, so we will continue to investigate this matter.”

Goode is suing the Popeyes corporation as well as the owner of the franchise, Z&H Foods Inc.