Food Poisoning Archives - The Law Office of WT Johnson Blog
If a person gets sick due to the food he or she ate being contaminated with bacteria, then it is called food poisoning. The common symptoms of food poisoning are temporary diarrhea and vomiting, but for children and the elderly, it can sometimes be fatal. A minimum of 250 types of food poisoning have been identified, and in this article we will discover 4 of the common types – E. coli, salmonella, listeria and norovirus or stomach flu.
The type of E. coli that usually results in food poisoning is Escherichia coli 0157:H7. While most strains of this kind of bacteria are rather harmless and can be found in the environment, the dangerous ones are found in livestock – particularly their intestines. It is usually spread when the animals are slaughtered, but they can also be transmitted through raw milk and can also contaminate nearby crops. When the contaminated meat is undercooked and unclean vegetables are eaten. E. coli poisoning can occur. Also, personal contact with a contaminated person can also spread the disease. The common symptoms of this kind of poisoning are bloody diarrhea and in serious cases, kidney failure.
Salmonellosis is an illness that is caused by the family of bacteria known as Salmonella enterica. Salmonella is often found in raw chicken, spoilt milk, tainted produce, reptiles, even poultry. There is a serious form of salmonella poisoning that can also result in typhoid fever, which may be deadly. The more common but less serious cases often recover within 4-7 days without treatment, but if the bacteria get in the bloodstream, it may also be deadly. Hence, immediate medical attention is always recommended. The common symptoms of salmonella poisoning are fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes can cause a serious condition known as listeriosis, and affects pregnant women, newborn infants, and adults with weaker immune systems. The bacteria are often found in contaminated soil and water, which as a result, can be transferred to healthy livestock. When the food is undercooked or unclean, then they can carry the bacteria and be transferred to humans upon consumption. Babies can also get the bacteria if their mothers have it while pregnant. Symptoms of this condition include muscle pain, nausea, fever, diarrhea, loss of balance as well as convulsions.
Often called the ‘stomach flu,’ norovirus is actually a group of viruses that are commonly found in the waste material of infected organisms. It is highly contagious, although not fatal, and often goes away after 1-2 days. Infected individuals who do not wash their hands properly may unknowingly pass the condition to others, especially if they prepare or touch the food that the others will consume. The symptoms of stomach flu include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
If you have been food poisoned and looking to pursue legal action against the establishment who served you contaminated food, then it is best to seek the assistance of a legal counsel who can walk you through the maze of personal injury lawsuits. The lawyers of W.T. Johnson are here to help you with your concerns and assist you in getting the compensation you deserve. Call us today.
Food poisoning is uncomfortable and can be truly horrible to deal with. If you have been made ill from consuming contaminated food, you may be wondering whether or not you can make a case for yourself. The answer is yes! However, time delays that occur between eating the food and the first signs of illness can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact time and food that made you ill in the first place. It may be easier to fight your case if a government regulated health agency has linked a food poisoning outbreak to the food that you ate, but this is not always the case.
Food poisoning lawsuits typically fall under product liability cases– since you are being sold or provided with a defective product (contaminated food) that injured you (made you ill). There are several approaches you can take in a food poisoning lawsuit. These include:
Approaching a case in terms of product liability is one of the most common routes taken in a food poisoning case. Many states have adopted laws that keep you from having to prove how the food that you consumed was contaminated. Most of the time you just have to prove that the food was indeed contaminated and that it did cause your illness.
You may also add negligence claims to your food poisoning case, under certain circumstances. This can be difficult to do, but if negligence is proven, you may be entitled to more compensation.Going this route will require you to track down the chain of suppliers until the food was given to you and made you ill. To do so, you must track every location that the food/ingredients were and who was handling them at the time. Track down the contamination to it’s source is required in a lawsuit, which could unfortunately happen at any stage of the chain of distribution. This could include the food processor, the distributors, any wholesalers, the supplier or the retailer. To claim negligence you must prove not only where the food was contaminated, but that the party in question acted negligently whilst manufacturing or supplying the food, causing the contamination that then made you ill.
This can cause the list of who is liable to grow or shrink. Liability falls on whoever contaminates the food, and possibly any who come in contact with the contaminated food and pass it along to another stage in the chain of distribution.
The best way to protect yourself against food poisoning is to know what foods are at risk. Though food poisoning can come as a shock and occur quickly without warning, knowing the most at risk foods can help you narrow down what food(s) may have caused your illness. The most common foods that are susceptible to food contamination include:
Leftovers can also be a great help in building your food poisoning case, since they can actively be tested to see what could have caused your illness. Never fear though, even if you do not have leftovers, it is still possible to successfully win a food poisoning case. With the help of an experienced attorney your chances will be higher. If you have any questions regarding food poisoning lawsuits, contact the Law Offices of WT Johnson today. Our staff has significant experience in these cases.
If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to suffer a bout of food poisoning, you know that you want to do all you can to prevent repeating the incident. When preparing food at home there’s a risk of cross-contamination that could result in serious reactions and illness for your whole family. There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of eating contaminated food, including:
Separate foods that are raw and foods that are ready to eat. We’re talking a wide, spacious separation. If you have more than one available counter in your kitchen, and are preparing a meal that contains both raw and ready-to-eat components keep them on separate surfaces. This includes times other than preparation as well. When shopping don’t place raw meats on top of poultry in a shopping cart. Try to always keep some space between raw foods that could possess harmful bacteria, and foods that won’t undergo any preparation before eating. Remember what you touch after you touch raw foods. Are you handling the raw chicken and then heading across the kitchen to dice an onion? There should be a necessary hand washing stop in between!
Wash hands, utensils and surfaces. We don’t mean maniacally. Preparing a meal should only require one or two “wipe downs.” Make sure you start cooking with clean hands, clean dishes and clean foods. After you’ve put raw foods into cook, return them to this state.
Cook foods thoroughly. Not everything need be slightly burnt, but learn how different meats need to be cooked. Chicken, for instance, is said to be safe to eat after having been brought to 165 degrees. This is obviously not the same for steak. If you like certain meats, like steak, a little rarer be sure to research what is a minimum temperature to kill bacteria. Use an internal thermometer to be sure.
Refrigerate foods that are perishable. Don’t leave leftover dinner out for longer than two hours before putting it away. If it’s summer, or your house is running a little warm, it should be done within the hour.
Some people are inherently more at risk for suffering food poisoning than others. A lot has to do with the strength and vitality of your immune system at the time of becoming ill.
Pregnant women often become much more sick than others. This is due to changes in their circulation and metabolism. Check in with your doctor to be sure that everything is all right. Rarely does the sickness affect the baby.
The very old and very young are also more at risk for experiencing severe food poisoning. This is because their immune systems aren’t usually as strong or capable of fending off bacteria.
At least at your home you can play an active part in preventing food poisoning. When you go to a restaurant on the other hand, you expect the kitchen staff to supply you with uncontaminated food that is safe for digestion. If you or a loved one has become ill because of the negligence of another please contact a Dallas food poisoning attorney at the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson and get the representation you need.
Consumer Reports Study
The Consumer Reports study showed levels of 4-methylimidazole or 4-MEI higher than 29 micrograms. At 29 micrograms, 4-MEI is considered potentially carcinogenic and must carry a warning label to comply with California law. There is no national standard for 4-MEI. The products Consumer Reports tested were Pepsi-One and Malta Goya.
For comparison, Pepsi-One tested from the New York area averaged 174 micrograms of 4-MEI. When tested, Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero averaged about 5 micrograms. Clear sodas have almost no measurable amount.
The FDA has studies the use of caramel as a food flavoring and colorant for decades and knows that 40-MEI is an impurity formed during the manufacturing process of sodas and other foods, but classified it as GRAS (generally recognized as safe).
Caramel coloring is generally derived from corn or wheat, which are known allergens, however, that information is not required on the labeling of sodas and foods that add it. The labels are required to state “caramel flavoring” or “artificial coloring.”
CNN reports the following:
“In a statement to Consumer Reports, PepsiCo Inc. said data indicates that the average person consumes less than one-third a can of diet soda per day; therefore, its product meets the California standard, even if a complete serving exceeds that limit.”
PepsiCo might actually believe their soda is safe because the average person throws two-thirds of the can away, or they might be drinking too much of their own product. Most soda drinkers are consuming more than four ounces per day. Beverage Digest, a trade publication that tracks the industry, says per capita consumption of carbonated soft drinks in the U.S. is 1.3 cans of soda a day.
US Department of Health and Human Services
While the FDA is claiming 4-MEI is safe for consumers, the National Toxicology Program, US Department of Health and Human Services has tested it and added 4-MEI to their carcinogenic list of chemicals. They conducted a two-year study of the effects on rats and mice. The rat study was inconclusive; however, the mice showed cancerous tumor growth after consuming 4-MEI.
Moreover, soda is not the only source of 4-MEI. It is found in a variety of foods that are consumed every day, so the question must be asked about the cumulative effects of consumption. 4-MEI is found in many condiments, processed foods, and sodas. In fact, the amount that the average American is actually consuming is unknown. It has been linked to cancer, and increased consumption can lead to an increased risk of cancer.
The companies that manufacture food and beverages need to be responsible for the products they profit from. Consumers are not the test mice. If you have been injured by a food or beverage product you need to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.
Call The Law Offices of W.T. Johnson to schedule a free consultation today.
Last week, a Florida judge rejected the Campbell Soup Co.’s desire to have a class action suit dropped. The lawsuit accuses Campbell Soup of falsely labeling soup that contains genetically modified corn as 100 percent natural. Campbell Soup argued that the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the “100% natural” label for two of its soups that contain genetically modified corn. Campbell’s 100% Natural Soups have been on the market since 2009.
U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas said that not allowing the lawsuit to move forward would harm other plaintiffs who are willing to bring claims against other companies over GMO labeling. He extended his remarks by stating the USDA may not have known the GMO corn was in the soup when they approved the label. He also refused Campbell’s argument that the FDA has primary jurisdiction over soup, because the FDA has refused to define the word “natural” and therefore, does not regulate those claims.
The plaintiff alleged that he bought several varieties of Campbell’s soups and that all 37 varieties contain corn that is GMO derived. FDA had jurisdiction over vegetable soups while the USDA has jurisdiction over soups containing meat. What is not clear from the complaint is whether the lawsuit is limited to whole kernel corn or includes cornstarch and other corn-based modifiers.
Food manufacturing companies are becoming concerned about the expense of determining if the ingredients they use are GMO, but also about the potential litigation brought on by consumers who want to know what is in their food. At the same time, many manufacturers have experienced a decline in sales as organically grown food has become less expensive and more readily available.
Congress refuses to take any steps to assist consumers in making informed decisions about what they are eating and feeding their families. FDA continues to refuse to define the terms ‘natural” and “all natural”, and this is leading to a flurry of false-labeling class actions across the country.
Some of the brands that are involved include:
- Snapple Juice, Healthy Choice Pasta Sauce, and Arizona Beverage Iced Teas: labeled “natural” but contain high-fructose corn syrup.
- Tostitos, Sunchips, naked juice Beverages and Wesson Vegetable Oil: labeled “natural” but contain genetically modified organisms.
- Tropicana Orange Juice: advertised as natural but is engineered in laboratories.
- Fiber One: claims natural but contains chemically extracted inulin.
- Lipton Tea and Hershey Chocolate: falsely touts the benefits of flavonoid antioxidants.
- Kashi snack and cereals: claims “nothing artificial” but contains synthetic ingredients.
- Splenda: claims to have vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, but delivers no health benefits.
- Chobani Yogurt: misleading use of “evaporated cane juice” for sugar.
- Nestle Coffee Mate Creamer: claims “0 grams trans fat”.
While some of these seem insignificant and do not withstand a motion to dismiss, others are moving forward.
One of the problems plaintiffs have confronted when pursuing class action cases is that fact that not every person in the class, defined as any purchaser, might have been harmed by the mislabeling. Consumers consider many issues when making a purchase, which “would likely include people with varying rationales behind their purchases.”
Fine v. ConAgra Foods Inc., No. CV 10-01848 SJO, at *10-11 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 26, 2010)
While it is true that consumer spending is linked to many different “rationale”, including price and availability of selection, there are food companies that have gone out of their way to advertise themselves as something that they are not. Discerning customers depend on accurate labeling to aid them in buying decisions.
What Are “Natural” Ingredients?
Because the FDA has refused to enter the food fight by setting clear definitions, they are deferring all of the food issues to the court system. In three pending court cases, judges have sent written requests to the FDA for guidance, but according to the FDA’s Assistant Commissioner for Policy, Leslie Kux, the agency believes that is where the issues should be decided, due to the complexity of competing interests, rather than the issuance of regulation or formal guidance. Kux also said that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is going to file a petition with the FDA to “issue a regulation authorizing foods containing ingredients derived from biotechnology to be labeled natural.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Associations has spent millions in an attempt to thwart ballot questions that would have required identification of GMOs in California and Washington. They are a lobby group that represents more than 300 food manufacturing businesses. It is estimated that 80 percent of all packaged food contains one or more genetically modified organisms. The most common ingredients being: corn, sugar, soy, cottonseed oil, and canola.
One hurdle a plaintiff must be able to defend against is the obvious problem with calling any processed food “natural,” regardless of the ingredients used, GMO or not. Food-science has created most of the products available on the market shelves today, and to call anything that is created via test tube, is a stretch.
One possible stepping-stone comes from the mouth of Monsanto, the bio-seed giant, in their definition of GMO, which they describe as,
“Plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism.”
Currently, there have been 65 class-action lawsuits filed against the food industry for unlabeled GMO ingredients. Although some cases have failed, others have resulted in multi-million dollar settlements. This battle is just beginning as the long-term effects of GMOs are emerging. As the results of more GMO studies are released, and more consumers desire to reclaim their rights; the court cases will grow.
Contact W.T. Johnson to set up a free consultation today.
Food poisoning is no joke, and anyone who has experienced the wrath can attest to its severity. Young children, pregnant women, and the elderly risk more severe side effects from food poisoning. If someone you know fits any of those categories and has food poisoning like symptoms, please have them contact a doctor immediately! Below is some information on how we get food poisoning, where we get it, and how we can prevent it!
Common Types of Food Poisoning
Of all the big names in food poisoning, salmonella is one of the most common and well known strains of bacteria. It is usually spread through poultry, eggs, or other raw/undercooked meats. The signs and symptoms of infection include: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and/or bloody stool. The symptoms will stick around for 4 to 7 days, but your lower intestine may take a few months to fully get back to normal.
Infection from norovirus is highly contagious and is commonly found in highly populated areas such as hospitals, nursing homes, and cruise ships. Luckily most people recover from norovirus in a few days without treatment.
Short for escherichia coli, e. coli is a bacteria commonly found in the gut of healthy mammals, but once it leaves there and gets in our food, trouble ensues. Many strains of e. coli are mostly harmless, but some are more extreme and can cause bloody stool and extreme abdominal pain. E. coli exposure can come from undercooked beef or produce that has come in contact with fecal matter in the process of shipping or packaging. Be warned, young children and the elderly are at risk of developing a kidney disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome or “HUS” if symptoms are severe enough.
Common Foods and How they Become Tainted
The FDA reports that 140,000 Americans are affected each year by food poisoning from bacteria found in eggs. The risk comes from the tainted shells, usually contaminated by animal waste. It is advised to cook all eggs thoroughly before you eat them. Also, you should always thoroughly wash your hands and every surface that has touched an uncooked, liquid egg.
Not being an animal product, produce is a surprising addition to this list. It turns out that leafy green vegetables are the leading offender of foodborne illness. The fields that the veggies are grown in are often polluted by environmental factors and animal feces. They are known to cause E. Coli, salmonella, and other forms of bacterial infection.
I personally associate fish with being a healthy source of fatty acids and protein, but it’s easy to forget how easily they can be contaminated with food poisoning causing bacteria. When the waters get warmer, fish have a higher possibility of containing the dangerous bacteria, vibrio. Vibrio is the bacteria that causes cholera. Fish have recently been studied to find abnormally high amounts of mercury contamination as well. Be careful when buying fish, and always cook it thoroughly to at least 145 degrees fahrenheit!
While shopping for your groceries there’s to buying fresh, quality goods than just the expiration date. Check the food up and down, and check to see if the packaging is completely intact. If the seal is broken, there’s no telling what could have infiltrated the food itself. If you are cooking for someone with food allergies, be a friend and avoid that ingredient or make two versions of the dish; one containing the questioned ingredient and one without it. Bonus tip: in order to have them out of the cold for the least amount of time while you transport them back to your fridge or freezer, top your cart off with items from the refrigerated and frozen sections last.
Scrub Scrub Scrub!
Thoroughly wash all your produce even if you don’t plan on eating the outside skin or layer. When an unwashed fruit or vegetable is cut, the contaminated surface could breach the skin delivered by the knife to contaminate the flesh. Be sure to sterilize all counter tops, cutting boards, and knives thoroughly to avoid cross contamination. It may seem unnecessary, but it is recommended to wash foods that advertise being pre-washed because the hands that touched it after the wash could be the tainted perpetrator.
Segregate Raw from Cooked Food/Utensils
Use different surfaces and utensils when handling raw and cooked foods to prevent cross contamination. In general, it’s smart to be overly (even annoyingly) attentive to which surfaces and utensils have touched which foods. Also, washing your sink after using it to clean meat is important, as the sink is usually the place in which sponges and other cleaning products are kept. It would be counter productive to clean using a harmful, bacteria ridden sponge!
Cook Everything Thoroughly
There is no worse feeling than biting into an undercooked, raw-centered piece of chicken or pork. That golden-brown, delicious appearance on the outside may be deceiving, so check the temperature internally or cut the meat to visually prove that it is safe to eat. Listed are the proper temperatures (in fahrenheit) that meat should have reached in order to be considered safe to consume: chicken and turkey, 165°; steak, 145°; hamburger meat, 160°; and pork, 145°. Use caution when cooking a steak rare!
When in Doubt, Throw it Out
Even if you’ve followed all of the previous tips, food poisoning can still occur in leftovers.
If you have any doubt that a potential leftover might have gone bad, throw it away. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure about the bacterial status of a leftover, a simple and easy-to-remember rule can be incited. Refer to the 2-4 rule with leftovers: don’t leave food out for longer than 2 hours, and don’t eat the leftovers after they’ve been in the fridge for more than 4 days. With its help, you won’t be regretting any midnight snacks anytime soon!
Here at W.T. Johnson, we understand that unexpected food poisoning is the worst feeling, especially if precautions have been made to prevent it. Not all food poisoning cases are as hazy, oftentimes negligent food preparation is the cause for your illness. If this is the case please contact the professionals at W.T. Johnson for your due compensation!
As you may recall, I blogged about Glass Onion Catering based out of Richmond, California who reported that 181,620 pounds of their product had been tainted by E. Coli. The affected foods were a series of ready-to-eat salads and lettuce wrap supplies that included fully-cooked, grilled chicken and ham. The specific strain of E. Coli is called O157:H7, and the USDA has concluded that 26 people, across three states have fallen ill from this particular strain. The salad products were sold at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Walgreens across eight states, including Texas. The FDA and CDC are working together to find the specific ingredient to blame, but nothing has been found yet. As many react and treat the illness, another concern has emerged.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned that some drugs could make the symptoms of the illness worse. Symptoms can develop anywhere between 1 to 10 days after exposure to the tainted food. The affected are urged to stay hydrated, and avoid any over-the-counter or anti-diarrheal medicine until your doctor has proven that you do not have E. Coli. Also, antibiotics shouldn’t be used to treat E. Coli, as it has no effect but could raise your likelihood of getting Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or HUS. HUS can occur in children under the age of ten who have just recently gotten over E. Coli. It occurs when red blood cells are damaged, leading to a form of anemia.
Be sure to wash everything you eat thoroughly, especially leafy greens! If you or a loved one has fallen ill due to a recalled food, please contact the professionals at W.T. Johnson for legal help!
In one of the largest cases of E. Coli contamination in recent memory, Glass Onion Catering based out of Richmond, California has reported that 181,620 pounds of product has been tainted by E. Coli. The affected foods are a series of ready-to-eat salads and lettuce wrap supplies that include fully-cooked grilled chicken and ham. The specific strain of E. Coli is called O157:H7, and the USDA has discovered that 26 people, across three states have fallen ill from the particular strain. Some of the products were packaged under the name Atherstone Fine Foods.The tainted products were manufactured between September 23rd and November 6th and were soon after shipped to distribution centers where they were intended to be sold in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Texas. The salad wrap packs were sold at Trader Joes and Walgreens. If you’ve recently bought a product matching the description above, double check to make sure you aren’t at risk!
E. Coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly strain of bacteria that can lead to kidney failure, other symptoms include:
- stomach pain and cramping
Many victims who ingest it, usually get over the illness within a week, but people with weaker immune systems have a higher risk of complications. Children under five-years-old and the elderly are most at risk. O157:H7 is signified by easy bruising, decreased urine output and a pale, sickly appearance.
Food poisoning is one of the most uncomfortable and irritating afflictions that can fall into our lap. If you or a loved one falls ill due to the mistakes of a manufacturer or restaurant, please contact a Dallas food recall lawyer at W.T. Johnson for legal help!
If you would like to discuss your claim with a member of our team, don’t hesitate to call us at (214) 231-0544. We’re ready to help you, and won’t rest until you receive the settlement you deserve.