Episodes of food poisoning are on the rise. What are my legal rights if I get sick due to food poisoning?
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
Almost every day, there is a news report of food contamination and recall of products known to have caused food poisoning. Products are recalled and taken off the supermarket shelf. Restaurants are closed temporarily or permanently when they are found to have served contaminated food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, one out of six people will get sick from eating contaminated food. At last 3,000 of those will die.
This year, E. coli outbreaks were linked to Chipotle restaurants in 11 states causing at least 55 people to suffer from the effects of food poisoning. The problem has been so severe, that on February 8, 2016, all Chipotle restaurants across the U.S. were closed for lunch so that the employees could be instructed on proper food handling techniques in order to prevent any more food poisoning incidents.
In another recent case, one man died and many more were hospitalized after contracting Listeria from salad products packaged by Dole. The products were distributed under the Kroger name at Kroger supermarkets in 23 states. One Dole processing plant was shut down as a result.
The list of food poisoning incidents is extensive. For example: Hundreds of people who ate at a McDonald’s in New York received immunizations for Hepatitis A when it was discovered they may have been exposed to the illness in food purchased at the chain. An Alabama restaurant was closed after four people contracted Salmonella poisoning. A Kansas restaurant was shut down after many patrons came down with digestive illnesses. Imported salmonella laced cucumbers have poisoned more than 800 people and caused six deaths across multiple states.
Although most food poisoning is due to negligence, there are incidents where the poisoning stems from intentional conduct. For example, in October 2015, the former president of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) was given a 28-year prison sentence for intentionally claiming the peanuts that were sent to market had been tested for Salmonella and were free from the poisonous bacteria. In fact, the peanuts had not been tested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 714 confirmed illnesses and nine deaths. As many as 22,000 people could have been infected.
What You Should Do If You Have Suffered From Food Poisoning?
Food processors, packagers, distributors, grocery store chains and restaurants of all kinds, have a duty to provide safe food products to consumers. When they do not, they must be held liable their negligence. You deserve to be compensated for your food poisoning damages such as medical bills, lost wages, as well as for your pain and suffering. If the poisoning stemmed from intentional conduct, as in the case of the peanuts processors, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well.
If you suffered from food poisoning, or someone you love died from a food poisoning episode, contact us and one of our attorneys will provide you a free consultation. We will review the facts of your case and advise you on the best way to proceed.