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Food Poisoning Illness: Who is Responsible?

Lawyer for Food Poisoning

When you go out to eat or consume foods at home, you are open to the possibility of being made ill or otherwise harmed by the food you eat. When handling food, it is very important to maintain safety measures and ensure freshness. But food safety negligence is often behind food-borne illnesses, particularly from restaurants and grocery store consumables.

The Major Problem of Food-Related Illness or Food Poisoning

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report on Produce Safety Standards, the Centers for Disease Control says about 48 million Americans get sick from food each year. This includes 128,000 hospital stays and 3,000 fatalities from food-borne sicknesses. Salmonella, listeria, E. coli, toxoplasmosis and other known causes of these sicknesses are linked to the food we eat and improper handling of cuisine.

Personal Injury and Product Liability in Food-Related Illness

Food manufacturers, preparers and distributors are often the responsible parties when food poisoning or severe food illness strikes, under product liability laws. The food may not have been properly treated or handled. Bacteria and food-borne illnesses can arise when certain temperatures are not maintained or food is contaminated when handled improperly.

Negligence is often a root cause of food-borne illness. Some sickness due to cuisine is derived from intentional tampering. Parties often purposefully mishandle food in order to save money in handling, storage, preparation or serving. Such actions can lead to contamination and severe illness, even lasting injury to people eating the food.

For restaurants and grocery stores, there are many parties involved in the distribution chain of available food. Any of these parties may be held liable when food-borne illness occurs. The parties may include the restaurant, retailer, manufacturer, distributor or others. If an employee has been negligent in handling food, the employer may be liable for that employee’s negligence.

Sources of Food-Borne Illness

Some bacteria, like salmonella, naturally occurs in the digestive tracts of animals. Proper preparation and storage of food can prevent this bacteria from spreading to food eaten by people. But when uncooked food is mishandled, the bacteria can infect the food and cross-contaminate to other consumed products. Unwashed food is particularly susceptible to transmission of this bacteria from cuisine to people.

Listeriosis can be severe when this bacteria contaminates food eaten by humans. People who acquire the disease are particularly vulnerable to strong reaction and illness when their immune systems are weak, they are pregnant, nursing, elderly or very young.

Another bacteria living in healthy animals but harmful to humans is E. coli. There are many different forms of E. coli bacteria, including over 700 types identified by scientists. Most forms of the bacteria are not harmful, but some can cause intense side effects for those who ingest food containing it. Severe intestinal cramping, bleeding discharge, vomiting and other symptoms may appear when E. coli contaminated food has been eaten.

A parasite found in food can cause an infection known as toxoplasmosis. Food should always be prepared and stored at the right temperatures to ensure such parasites do not thrive and cause illness. Parasites are found throughout our environment and even in our own bodies. But some can make us sick.

Source: Youtube – Florida Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence

Criminal Responsibility for Food-Related Illness or Injury

Food safety is imperative for any person or entity providing food to the public. Both civil and criminal liability can be carried by those preparing food for others. Criminal charges may result if food is intentionally mishandled by owners, managers or employees of food establishments. Private parties intentionally tampering with food products can be held liable through criminal charges. Intentional contamination is not unheard of when tainted products are shipped and sold to unsuspecting members of the public. When food-borne illness or injury occurs, investigations often lead to responsible parties.

Injury and death have resulted in the past from contamination of orally ingested products, from food to medications. In these situations, people have even died from their injuries and widespread outbreaks have sickened hundreds of victims. In the worst situations of unchecked spread of parasites, bacteria or poisons, thousands of people can be made sick before the source is even determined.

Prevention of Food-Related Illness or Injury

Prevention of food poisoning and proper handling of food products are essential to ensuring people do not become sick from food contamination. Some cuisine requires careful cleaning prior to ingestion. Hand washing is very important for safe food handling, both before and after touching food products. Refrigeration of food must be at the right temperature. Washing and sterilizing of all food surfaces are very important, even in refrigeration, freezing and cooking equipment. Many surfaces should be cleaned with hot water and bleach with moisture on surfaces frequently wiped away.

Personal Injury Lawyers Handle Food-Related Injury Claims

When a food-related injury or illness arises, a personal injury lawyer can help the injured person assess viability of a legal claim against the parties responsible for damages. Negligence may be involved as part of a claim addressing product liability issues. Often, a lawsuit can be brought against responsible parties to compensate for medical expenses and other damages, as well as to ensure that such negligence does not continue.


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