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When Food Poisoning Strikes, Compensation May Be Available

When families go out to eat, whether for Sunday brunch or a birthday dinner, they expect their food to not only taste good but also be safely prepared. This is true for the fanciest restaurants as well as the fast food restaurant on the corner. It is also true for food purchased at the grocery store or served via home delivery.

Legal News GavelUnfortunately, however, food is not always as safe as it should be. Sometimes this results in an upset stomach that resolves itself after a couple of days and that a customer may not even attribute to food he or she recently ate. But sometimes food poisoning can cause serious health problems or even death.

One of the more common and well known sources of food contamination is the E. coli bacteria, which lives in the intestines of certain animals. The most common symptoms of E. coli are diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. In more serious cases, kidney failure may occur. This most commonly occurs in children and those with compromised immune systems, like the elderly.

Food can be contaminated with E. coli in many ways and at many points along the supply chain. Fruit and vegetables may be contaminated at the farm, for example, by farm workers who fail to wash their hands before picking crops, or by water runoff from a nearby animal farm. Meat can be contaminated in a slaughterhouse when contaminated animal parts come in contact with cuts intended for human consumption.

Food contamination can also occur in processing plants and distribution sites, where employees routinely handle meat and produce as it is processed for shipment to supermarkets and restaurants. In supermarkets, produce and meat can again be contaminated by employees readying food for sale behind the meat counter or for the display in the produce section. In a restaurant, infected employees can transmit the bacteria while preparing and cooking a customer’s meal.

Since there are so many possible sources of contamination, Illinois requires that companies take certain precautions while handling the meat and produce that eventually end up on a customer’s table. In slaughterhouses, for example, protocols are supposed to be put in place that prevent infected animal parts from coming in direct contact with parts meant for human consumption. In restaurants, foods may be washed and cooked to a certain temperature to kill the bacteria, and employees may be required to wear gloves and wash hands before handling any food.

If a slaughterhouse, processor, supermarket, or restaurant fails to take reasonable precautions like these to prevent food contamination, and a customer ends up sick because of E. coli or any other source of food poisoning, the injured party may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, unpaid medical bills, and even pain and suffering or emotional distress.

In most cases involving E. coli, health officials are able to determine the source of the contaminated food. In a recent outbreak, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 47 of 52 people infected with E. coli ate at a Chipotle restaurant within a week of getting sick. According to one news report, the outbreak has now spread to at least nine states, including Illinois. To date, however, the CDC has been unable to identify the specific ingredient that is the source of the contamination.

In response to the outbreak, Chipotle announced that it has tightened food safety standards in its restaurants. The company also announced that it has removed all ingredients likely to be the source of the contamination from its restaurants.

Have You Been a Victim of Food Poisoning?

If you ate something that caused you to get sick, the lawyers at Moll Law Group can help. Our lawyers are not intimated by large restaurant chains or food producers, which often put profits before safety when government regulation is lax. Our primary goal is always to help you recover damages for your losses, including any pain and suffering you may have experienced. We understand how debilitating food poisoning can be, both mentally and physically. We also firmly believe that by helping you, we are also helping many others by making the food supply safer for everyone. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.

See More Posts:

Child Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.

Naperville Residents Warned of Risk of Addiction to Prescription Drugs, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, November 21, 2015.

Emergency Room Errors May Amount to Medical Malpractice, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 7, 2015.

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