Foodborne illness is common in the United States and in some cases it can require hospitalization. You may be able to recover for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or other losses. We work with some of the more experienced food poisoning attorneys, who handle these lawsuits, and there are no legal fees unless a settlement or award is obtained. Feel free to call us toll-free anytime or submit an online contact form.

woman with food poisoning

Have You Suffered a Food Poisoning or Foodborne Illness?
Call d’Oliveira & Associates for a Free Case Evaluation!

e coli that causes food poisoningAccording the CDC, 1 in 6 people become sick from contaminated food each year. Additionally, food poisoning causes 5,000 deaths and 300,000 hospitalizations in the United States every year. This costs more than $150 billion dollars annually. Bacteria and viruses are the leading causes of foodborne illness in the country. The most common causes of this type of sickness include the following.

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Norovirus
  • Listeria
  • Toxoplasma
  • Campylobacter

Most cases of poisoning require little to no medical treatment. Generally, a person will suffer nausea and diarrhea that passes in a few days. However, in some cases, this type of sickness can be severe and even require hospitalization.

What is Foodborne Illness?

Food poisoning is caused by consuming food that is contaminated with bacteria, a virus, or another contaminant. There are generally two types of agents that cause sickness, infective agents and toxic agents. Infective agents include bacteria, parasites and viruses. Toxic agents include chemicals, improperly prepared foreign food, pesticides, poisonous mushrooms, and poisonous seafood.

Common Causes of Food Poisoning

raw beef if not cooked can cause food poisoningThere are many ways of food can become contaminated but in many cases sickness occurs because the food was mishandled allowing it to become tainted with bacteria and viruses. Large amounts of bacteria in turn create large amounts of toxins which makes the food more dangerous. Food contamination can occur because of the following dangerous practices.

  • Poor sanitation
  • Improper food processing and preparation
  • Improper storage of food
  • Failure to maintain sanitary conditions at factories or packing plants
  • Undercooked food
  • Contact between food and pests/rodents
  • Cross-contamination

There are many pathogens which cause foodborne illness. A pathogen is a germ which causes sickness. Not all pathogens of foodborne illnesses are known. The cause of 60% of food poisoning is unknown. The remaining 40% of cases are caused by one of the known 250 bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

Foodborne Pathogens include:

  • Bacillus Cereus
  • Botulism
  • Campylobacter
  • Cholera
  • E. Coli
  • Fish Poisoning
  • Listeria
  • Mushroom Poisoning
  • Norovirus
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Staph Aureus
  • Yersinia

Many different people may be responsible for food contamination including food manufacturers, food producers, food retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, supermarkets, and other places were food is prepared, served, sold, or stored.

Signs and Symptoms of Foodborne Poisoning

Symptoms of foodborne illness normally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated food. However, symptoms can occur as quickly as 30 minutes after ingesting the dangerous food. These signs can be minor or serious.

Common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting/Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash/Hives
  • Experiencing any signs of dehydration (dizziness, thirst, fainting)
  • Racing pulse or pounding heart
  • Doubled or blurred vision
  • Abdominal cramps (diarrhea)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Convulsions or shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive weaknesses or partial paralysis

Food poisoning poses a more serious risk for people, such as, children, people with immune system deficiencies, people with a serious medical condition like diabetes or kidney disease, pregnant women, and senior citizens. Some diseases can be transmitted to the fetus. Generally, most people recover from foodborne illness, without medical treatment. However, serious cases of sickness require medical treatment.

Serious cases of food poisoning can cause:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Paralysis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) (organ failure)
  • Reiter’s Syndrome (chronic arthritis)
  • Guillian-Barre Syndrome (leads to paralysis)
  • Wrongful death

Steps to Take After Suffering a Foodborne Illness

woman calling a lawyer due to food poisoningIn order to avoid long-term or permanent injuries, people who are suffering food poisoning should take certain steps to insure their health and protect their legal rights.

  1. Save the food. Save the food that suspect caused the food poisoning. A lawyer can have the food tested for contaminants. Also, you should write down where you ate, when you ate, and what you ate.
  2. Call your doctor. Your health and safety should be your first concern. Every case of food poisoning is different so receiving a professional opinion from your doctor is an important step. If your condition is serious you should seek emergency treatment.
  3. Talk to a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to give you advice on the merits of your case. He or she will also be able to help you begin gathering evidence and building a strong case. Our law firm has focuses exclusively on personal injury and disability lawsuits.
  4. File a report with the Health Department. Your doctor or lawyer will be able to file a report with the health department. This is an important step because the department will be able to investigate the cause and prevent other people from becoming sick.

Food Safety Tips

At the Supermarket:

  • Do not purchase any jars or cans that are broken, bulging, cracked, or have loose lids.
  • Do not purchase any packages or boxes that are opened, ripped, or torn.
  • Pickup perishables and frozen food last. Bag these groceries separately to avoid any contamination.
  • Do not leave groceries in the car for long periods of time.

At Home:

  • Always put away perishables and frozen food promptly.
  • Follow the instructions on the food label for the best place to store it.
  • Store food at the proper temperature, which is listed on the food label.
  • Throw out any food, which is past the expiration date, has mold, looks suspicious or smells.

Food Preparation:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food. In addition, always wash hands with soap and water again after handling meat, poultry, or raw fish.
  • Always wash fresh fruit and vegetables before consumption.
  • Use one cutting board for fruits, vegetables and bread and use another cutting board for meats, poultry and fish.
  • Use clean utensils and wash them between cutting different foods.
  • Always clean and sanitize surfaces, which come into contact with food.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

food poisoning lawyer meeting coupleIf you or a loved one has become ill from eating contaminated food, you should talk to an attorney about your injuries. You may be entitled to recover damages for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, or other losses. Our law firm works with some of the more experienced food poisoning lawyers, who can file a lawsuit on your behalf, and there is no legal fee unless you receive a settlement or award.