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What to Do if You Suspect Food Poisoning

Mild food poisoning often gets overlooked as a stomach bug or other minor ailment. However, severe food poisoning can make people extremely ill, sometimes resulting in hospitalization and even death. If you become sick after eating food contaminated with harmful bacteria, such as E.coli or salmonella, you may have a case. Unfortunately, proving that your illness is linked to a specific food can be quite difficult. When there is an outbreak of food poisoning, claims are much easier to prove. In either situation, the help of an experienced attorney is essential to a positive outcome. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Last year, Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons when multiple food poisoning incidents sickened hundreds of customers. The food poisonings occurred in several states and resulted in 43 restaurants being shut down. In the Chipotle case, the link between food and sickness was apparent because of the number of claims and the fact that many infected customers tested positive for norovirus and E.coli.

U.S. Food Poisoning Statistics
  • The most common types of food borne diseases are caused by the following bacteria: Escherichia coli (E.coli), Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Vibrio, Shigella, and Yersinia.
  • Parasites called Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora are also responsible for foodborne illnesses
  • The most common type of food poisoning is salmonella. Nearly half of all cases involve salmonella poisoning.
  • Approximately 128,000 people are hospitalized every year due to contaminated food.
  • About 3,000 people die from food poisoning annually.
  • Most food poisoning cases involve a defective product liability claim, with the contaminated food being the ‘defective product.’

According to the CDC, the best way to avoid contracting a foodborne illness is by always making sure to clean hands and utensils, separate raw meat and seafood from ready-to-eat foods, and cook whole meats to at least 145 degrees, ground meats to at least 160 degrees, and poultry to at least 165 degrees. In addition, refrigerated food should always be kept below 40 degrees. This is all great advice for at-home cooking, but how can you make sure that food-service workers follow these same guidelines? The short answer is, you can’t.

Types of Food Poisoning Lawsuits

If you suspect that something you ate in a restaurant or purchased at a store has made you ill, report the illness to your local health department immediately, and contact an injury attorney. Food poisoning cases generally fall under one of three categories; negligence, strict products liability, or breach of warranty. Each type is explained below:

Negligence: A food-service business has a duty to exercise reasonable care by maintaining a safe environment and producing safe products. If a business neglects to take reasonable care and someone is injured as a result, that business may be deemed negligent. For example, if a follow-up investigation reveals that a restaurant is storing meat in unsanitary conditions, a food poisoning claimant will likely have a good case against the restaurant. However, in order to prove that a specific food from a specific restaurant caused a plaintiff’s food poisoning, it is important to report the illness as soon as possible. If the suspected culprit (the food) tests positive for bacteria or parasites, the plaintiff will have a strong case against the business.

Strict Products Liability: Negligence does not need to be a factor in strict products liability cases. A food poisoning victim need only show that a specific food caused a specific illness. In most states, businesses are liable under strict products liability for simply selling contaminated food, even if they didn’t do anything negligent in the process.

Breach of Warranty: Products typically have an implied warranty that they will meet the expectations of an ordinary customer. Obviously, when an ordinary customer buys food, he or she does not expect that food to be contaminated. For this reason, if a customer becomes sick after eating contaminated food, breach of warranty can be claimed.

Altman & Altman, LLP - Food Poisoning Injury Lawyers

If you become sick after eating contaminated food, any parties in the chain of distribution may be liable. This includes the processing facility, the retailer, and any suppliers and distributors involved. The legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP has extensive experience with food poisoning cases. We can help you determine if you have a solid case before moving forward. Our skilled injury team has an impressive track record of obtaining compensation for clients, and we can help you. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free consultation about your case.

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