Food Poisoning Attorney
Food is one of our most precious commodities. Without it, we cannot live. It is so simple to take for granted that what we eat, as innocent as it may appear, could potentially make us sick. The statistics of foodborne illness are staggering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that as many as 48 million people suffer from foodborne illness each year, 128,000 will find themselves hospitalized, and over 3000 die. That is just illnesses. Foodborne illness takes a hefty toll on the economy as well. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the cost of foodborne illness on the United States economy carries a price tag of about $15.6 billion. Salmonella infections alone estimate to cost in the neighborhood of $3.6 billion.
These statistics only cover what has actually been reported by victims of foodborne illness. Many cases of food poisoning and foodborne illness go unreported each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm that only a small fraction are reported.
We as a nation are enamored with food. Food is made to not just taste good, but to smell and look good as well. We watch food and cooking shows, wanting to taste, touch, and maybe if we are ambitious enough, make it. For most of us, the last idea on our minds is that the food we eat could make us sick, or worse, kill us. This is exactly why we at Robins Cloud LLP have made it our mission to expose the hidden dangers in food and to do our part in making our food system safer for everyone.
What Makes Us Sick?
Food poisoning and foodborne illnesses can come in many forms and from many places. Did you know that there are only 15 pathogens that make up 95% of all foodborne illness infections? These pathogens include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungus. Did you know that chicken is one of the deadliest food products? Or that leafy green vegetables, like spinach, lettuce, and cilantro, cause more foodborne illnesses than any meat combined? The concerns lie within the ability for the food preparers, growers, manufacturers, and harvesters to abide by proper food safety practices. Even the most ethical and cleanly farms can be a source of dangerous cross-contamination and bacterial transfer.
It is not only pathogens that can make us ill. Chemical hazards, physical hazards, and other toxins are also culprits. Pesticides, oils, metals, additives, physical materials, and other harmful materials are also potential culprits for foodborne illness. Drinking water has become a large concern in the United States over the last few decades in the wake of the Flint, Michigan and Hinkley, California among others. Again, the hidden dangers of what we ingest and that we take for granted.
How Safe is Our Food? Prevention helps.
Our food is as safe as its source. Harmful bacteria occur naturally. For example, Listeria is commonly found in soil. Escherichia Coli is in the environment and the intestines of animals we normally eat. Salmonella is common in poultry, especially live poultry farms. All of these food products come from what are considered safe sources.
Considering most foods that make it onto our plates have gone through a rigorous series of processes to get to us – from farms to manufacturing facilities, from the grocery store to your home – there are a multitude of different ways our food can become contaminated. Regardless of whether or not the food smells, looks, or tastes bad, it may still make you sick.
Foodborne illness is preventable though and prevention is easier than you may think. There are many different simple practices you can do at home or on the go to help keep you and your family healthy and safe. Handwashing is the cheapest, quickest way to stave off bacteria. Twenty seconds, soap, and warm running water is all one needs. The Food and Drug Administration recommends washing foods, like fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens to help reduce the amount of foodborne pathogens. Also, cooking foods, especially meat products, at their optimum cooking temperatures is a simple and effective way to reduce foodborne illness. Food safety is not just for chefs and food service workers. It is for everyone.
Smart shopping is a helpful tool as well. Foodsafety.gov recommends that, when you purchase dairy products or juices, you purchase pasteurized ones. This will reduce the likelihood that you may ingest harmful bacteria from raw products. Placing raw meats at the bottom of your basket will reduce the possibility of cross-contamination by dripping liquids. Steering clear from damaged or bulging cans is also a good ounce of prevention, as these compromise containers may be a vector for botulism. Again, simple practices can help reduce and prevent foodborne illness.
Types of Food Poisoning
As noted above, 15 different pathogens make up approximate 95% of all reported foodborne illnesses. Foodborne illnesses can manifest with a variety of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, stiff neck, headaches, and others. It is hard to make a self-diagnosis of foodborne illness. Therefore, it is always recommended that, if you or someone you love suspects that they may have fallen victim to foodborne illness, urgent medical attention is a good idea. In some instances, urgent medical attention may prevent the spread of the illness and/or any potential complications as a result of the infection.
Why File a Lawsuit? What does it entail?
United States governmental agencies, like the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Foodsafety.gov, help regulate farms, manufacturers, and food preparation companies to follow food safety laws. Despite this regulation, outbreaks still happen. People still get sick, and even die, from preventable contamination.
Lawsuits are the vehicle by which farms and companies can be held to the standard of the law. By reporting foodborne illness, a victim alerts the proper governmental agencies to investigate and inspect the potential source for the contamination of a particular food product. Through the lawsuit, typically based on products liability, if a company is found to have been negligent in their handling, processing, or packaging of a food, there is a potential to remedy this so it does not happen again in the future.
The start of any foodborne illness claim begins with showing liability. Essentially, an investigation needs to be conducted as to whom is to blame. Also, finding out what bacteria or other pathogen made you sick is helpful. Using these tools, our firm is able to build your case and help guide you through the legal process. We are here for you, to ensure that you are taken care of and to help ensure this does not happen to anyone else.
Robins Cloud LLP is currently investigating the following food-related cases: