A new report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts states that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is not doing enough to target salmonella bacteria, which causes at least 42,000 reported food poisoning illnesses nationwide every year. According to a CBS news report, the report blames two recent salmonella outbreaks involving Foster Farms’s raw chicken to weaknesses on the part of the USDA.
Hundreds of Illnesses Reported
Consumer Reports also released a study this month, which showed that 97 percent of raw chicken breast sample tests contained potentially harmful bacteria. Pew’s report takes a closer look at two multistate salmonella outbreaks linked to Foster Farms, the sixth largest producer of chicken in the United States. One outbreak lasted from June 2012 to April 2013 and the other began in March 2013 and remains ongoing.
More than 520 illnesses in 29 states and Puerto Rico have been reported and as many as 15,000 people may have gotten infected by the bacteria, but may not have reported it, according to Pew. The report points out that food safety officials only issued a health alert for the second outbreak, but not the first. In the case of both outbreaks, USDA officials did not ask Foster Farms to recall its products.
The Seriousness of Salmonella Infections
Salmonella reportedly affects about 42,000 Americans each year, but the government estimates that the number could be 30 times higher since most infections go unreported and a majority of those affected recover within a week without treatment. The most common symptoms of salmonella infections include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Some patients may require hospitalization and others may end up suffering long-term health issues such as reactive arthritis, joint pain that is difficult to treat.
While proper inspection and enforcement on the part of the USDA will help prevent food poisoning outbreaks, it is important for food producers to take responsibility for the products they put in the market. If you have been affected by a food-borne illness, you may have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer, processer, retailer or even a restaurant that served the contaminated food. An experienced California personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you in such cases regarding your legal rights and options.