Food Poisoning: Do You Have a Case?

Jay Stillman

3 min read

Food Poisoning Lawsuit
Image: FDA [Public Domain]
How safe is the food we buy? Have you ever gotten sick from restaurant food?

Each year, Stillman and Friedland see more and more personal injury claims due to food poisoning.

When you or someone in your family gets sick due to unsafe bacteria or harmful additives, contact a doctor if the symptoms are severe. If you are not sure if it is food poisoning or a “gut bug,” check your symptoms and ask your doctor.

Different bacteria have different onset times and symptoms and your physician should be able to help you diagnose and figure out when you contracted the problem. For example, salmonella takes about 36 hours after exposure to start wreaking havoc on your digestive system. If it is salmonella and you know where you ate 36 hours ago, that will help pinpoint the source of the problem.

It is very important that the doctor do a test of the bacteria to diagnose the cause of the illness.

Remember that if you get sick, others will also. Always report suspected restaurant and product-based food poisoning to the FDA’s Food Safety program. There are also separate reporting contacts for different food products, such as poultry. The FDA also publishes regular updates of food recalls. We recommend you subscribe to these alerts to avoid bacterial contamination, and especially if you or a family member is sensitive to certain foods.

Be sure to report the contamination to the local county health department, they are the first line of inspection and reporting of contamination.

There are many recalls nationwide. The following incomplete list is based on U.S. recalls just in the past month:

Unlabeled Allergens:

  • Turkey meatballs labeled gluten-free but containing above 20 PPM of gluten
  • Frozen meat containing wheat protein (gluten) additives without any labeling stating that wheat has been added to the product.
  • Prepared foods with added nuts or peanuts not listed in the ingredients, both of which can be fatal allergens
  • Undeclared additions of milk and other dairy products, also potentially severe allergens.

Bacterial contamination: Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria -— other organisms can also cause serious and potentially long-term health risks.

Other dangers: Metal fragments due to improper processing.

In this day and age when fewer people cook at home, and prepared foods and takeout are staples for many, food poisoning will continue to be an issue. Industrially produced food has ingredients that may be produced by sources other than the manufacturer indicated on the label; this multiplies the chances for contamination, as does large-scale production.

Legally, if your symptoms are severe and especially if you are hospitalized, you may choose to pursue a personal injury case against a restaurant or food manufacturer. If you have been diagnosed with food poisoning, your case can be strengthened by others reporting the same problem. Remember that in order to claim damages, you must receive medical care.

From Stillman and Friedland…because we care.