Food producers have a duty to ensure that the food products they provide to the public are free of contamination and safe for human consumption. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has adopted a new set of rules and regulations designed to improve safety controls and prevent harmful and even deadly foodborne illness outbreaks from making people sick.
When a producer or company fails to safely prepare or process food products, and a consumer becomes sick as a result, the producer may be strictly liable for the consumer’s damages. The most difficult aspect of a food contamination case is proving causation. Most of us eat a wide variety of foods and products throughout the day, or even week, and many people fail to remember exactly what they consumed, or where and when they consumed it.
When an outbreak occurs, state public health officials and the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) typically get involved to help trace the particular strain that caused the illness back to a specific source, like a restaurant, factory, or farm. In many cases, the reports and evidence created during these investigations can be used to show causation in a lawsuit.
Recently, the CDC announced that it was investigating an outbreak of salmonella linked to nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter, and other mixed nut blends. So far, contamination cases have been identified in Oregon, California, Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and North Carolina. After contacting six of the infected individuals, the CDC has concluded that the salmonella contamination originated at least in part with JEM Raw Chocolate brand nut spreads.
Between April 2015 and September 2015, an outbreak of salmonella hit the Pacific Northwest, causing 192 people to fall ill as a result of the contamination in Alaska, Washington, California, Idaho, and Oregon. According to the Washington State Department of Health’s report, most of the people who contracted the illness had traveled to Washington in the week preceding the onset of their illnesses. The outbreak was eventually traced back to a meat processing plant.
Then, in November 2015, popular Mexican fast food chain Chipotle closed 43 of its Oregon and Washington locations when health officials determined that an outbreak of E. Coli infecting at least 22 people originated at their restaurants. Another Chipotle-based outbreak hit news lines in September when some 45 Minnesota residents contracted salmonella from contaminated tomatoes that Chipotle used in its dishes.
Back in August 2015, some 100 people reported becoming ill after eating at a California Chipotle location. After research and investigation, health officials determined that the restaurant had used food contaminated with norovirus.
If you or someone you know has suffered illnesses as the result of food contamination, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, we know just how devastating a food contamination illness can be for your and your family. We represent victims throughout the United States, including in Texas, California, New York, and Illinois. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.