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Food Poisoning Cases

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Food Poisoning

Foodborne illness, or food poisoning, is caused by eating contaminated food. Contamination can come from many types of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Food can become contaminated at the time a food item is processed or produced, as well as from improper handling or improper cooking. Eating contaminated food can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Symptoms can appear within hours or up to several days after eating a contaminated food. Each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, close to 50 million Americans become ill from food poisoning, over 100,000 people are hospitalized, and three thousand people die.

Food poisoning outbreaks occur quite often throughout the United States and we quite frequently hear of a food item being recalled due to contamination. Such outbreaks are investigated by public health agencies. It is the responsibility of these agencies to identify the source of the outbreak, initiate recalls, and inform the public. In some cases, such as the Blue Bell Ice Cream case discussed below, they can cause criminal charges to be brought against individuals and companies for either attempting to conceal the contamination or for being criminally negligent in causing the contamination.

While most food poisoning cases resolve in a matter of days, some lead to hospitalization and/or death. Some of the most famous instances of serious food poisoning outbreaks, such as the Blue Bell Ice Cream case of 2015, involve the bacterium Listeria. Listeria can be found in unpasteurized milk and cheeses, ice cream, hot dogs, deli meats, seafood, fruits, and raw produce. Food poisoning caused by Listeria can result in severe illness or death.

Can you sue a restaurant or food producer for causing your food poisoning? Yes, you can, but these cases are extremely difficult to prove. As a general rule, unless your local or state health department has confirmed an outbreak, can link the outbreak to a specific food product, and can identify the point of contamination, you probably do not have a case you can prove in a court of law. However, if you have become seriously ill, or if your loved one has died from food poisoning, you should contact an attorney because in such serous cases, the odds are that an outbreak has been detected and a negligent party has been identified.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE EATEN CONTAMINATED FOOD: You should preserve what is left of the food you have eaten and call your local health department to report your case and to inquire whether there have been other similar cases reported.

THE ATTORNEY’S ROLL: The attorney’s job in food poisoning cases is to follow the evidence that links his client’s illness to the negligent party. Of course, as in all personal injury cases, the attorney has to also develop the damages evidence, documenting his client’s medical expenses, pain, suffering and mental anguish.