Eating is a part of everyone’s daily requirements for life. Because of this, manufacturers have an essential duty to maintain and distribute food products that are safe for consumers. However, there are times when food can be distributed in an unsafe manner, including contaminated foods, negligently prepared foods, and foods containing foodborne illnesses. Injuries can result from the intake of these foods, and cause very serious health conditions as a result.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are between 70 and 80 million cases of food poisoning each year in the United States. Food poisoning causes about 325,000 hospitalizations and up to 5,000 deaths each year.
What can you receive from food?
Bacteria, viruses, parasites are among some of the pathogens which can contaminate improperly prepared food or raw food. Some examples of these include: salmonella poisoning, hepatitis A, Noroviruses, shigellosis, campylobacterosis, E. coli poisoning, listeriosis, and toxoplasmosis. Foods can become contaminated after improper preparation, improper food storage, or improper sanitizing. The signs of food injury illness can begin anywhere from several hours after ingesting the food to several days later as the contaminated food is digested in the body.
The Georgia Legislature has passed the Georgia Food Act, found under O.C.G.A. §§ 26-2-20- 26-2-41. This is a consumer protection statute as it helps protect consumers from mislabeled, misbranded foods as well as acts as a prevention tool to contaminated food production, sales, and distributions.
Bacterium Causing Food Injury:
One of the most common types of food poisoning is salmonella. It accounts for one billion dollars in medical costs alone. The side effects of salmonella include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and other side effects such as joint pain, reactive arthritis and other serious health conditions.
Listeria is a type of bacteria found in vegetation, raw milk, meat, cheeses, soil, salad vegetables, and poultry. The symptoms of Listeria include flu like symptoms. This type of bacteria really affects a person’s immune system.
E. coli is one strain among hundreds found in the bacterium Escherichia coli. This strain has a very strong toxin that may cause illness and even in some cases, death. It starts off with watery diarrhea and then eventually turns into bloody diarrhea. This type of bacteria has caused kidney failure and death. Ways the bacterium is spread is through undercooked hamburgers, contaminated well water, and/or unpasteurized juices or milk.
Viruses Causing Food Injury:
Viruses do count for more than half of food injury cases.
Norwalk Virus: This virus causes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, low-grade fever, headache, and stomach pain. This is the most common virus caused by food poisoning. It’s usually spread from water, vegetables (contaminated by feces), from person to person, and shellfish.
Rotavirus: This virus can also be spread through contaminated food. The symptoms of rotavirus include fever and watery diarrhea.
Another common virus that causes food injury is Hepatitis A. The symptoms include a loss of appetite, tiredness, fever, and yellowing of the eyes and skin (called jaundice). There have been extreme cases of Hepatitis A which can lead to a need for a liver transplant and may even cause death.
Signs to look for when your food may be contaminated:
- Severe vomiting
- Vision trouble
- Speaking trouble
- Breathing trouble
- Muscle weakness
- Swallowing trouble
- Fever that is over 100 degrees F
- Stomach pain
Food Injury Lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC are currently investigating and handling several salmonella outbreaks and continually investigate new cases on a regular basis. In 2008, Georgia had the second highest rate of salmonella incidents out of a ten state study. Two of the more recent and highly publicized examples of foodborne illness outbreaks relate to the ConAgra Peanut Butter salmonella outbreak in 2007 and the Peanut Corporation of America salmonella outbreak in 2008. The food poisoning lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC were integral players in both salmonella outbreaks and continue to represent those affected by these tragic incidents.
If you or a loved one has been severely injured due to a food contamination, negligent food preparation, or from a foodborne illness, you may want to contact our Food Injury Lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC to see how we can help protect your legal interests. Our food poisoning lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to help you.