California Food Poisoning Lawyers
If you believe that you became ill after eating a certain food, please contact your local health department. File a report and be ready to answer any questions officials may ask you. You should also make sure that you protect your own legal rights by calling an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases in your area.
The skilled and knowledgeable food poisoning attorneys at Bisnar Chase know what it takes to prove these types of cases and hold negligent food manufacturers, retail outlets and restaurants accountable. We understand the amount of physical pain and emotional trauma food-borne illnesses can cause not only to the victim, but also his or her family. If you or someone you know has suffered food poisoning as the result of a contaminated or defective food product, please contact us at 949-203-3814 for a free and comprehensive consultation.
Food poisoning is a common, sometimes life-threatening problem for millions in the United States, which occurs as a result of consuming contaminated food. People infected with pathogens may be symptom-free or may have symptoms ranging from mild intestinal discomfort to severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea. Depending on the type and severity of the infection, individuals could even suffer internal organ damage or die as a result of food poisoning. Some of the most common food-borne illnesses are infections caused by bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria and botulism.
Food Poisoning Statistics
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly one in six Americans suffer from food poisoning each year. Of the 48 million people who become sick every year, about 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Other findings from 2011 include:
- Salmonella was the leading cause of estimated hospitalizations and deaths, responsible for about 28 percent of deaths and 35 percent of hospitalizations due to known pathogens transmitted by food.
- About 90 percent of estimated illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths were due to seven pathogens: salmonella, norovirus, campylobacter, toxoplasma, E. coli O157, listeria and clostridium perfrigens.
- Nearly 60 percent of estimated illnesses were caused by norovirus.
What to do if You Have Food Poisoning
There are several steps you would be well advised to take if you suspect food poisoning.
- Seek medical attention: If you are experiencing symptoms such as abdominal cramping, nausea and bloody diarrhea, it is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. Your doctor should run diagnostic tests to determine the type of infection and administer the necessary treatment.
- Document what you ate: If possible, write down everything you ate or drank for at least three or four days before your symptoms surfaced. Write down what you ate and where you ate it. Remember, food poisoning symptoms can take several days to develop.
- Preserve leftovers: If you believe that a certain food made you ill, make sure that it is isolated and preserved so it can be tested in a lab for pathogens. It is also important that you preserve the product's packaging, if possible, with the barcode, which can help trace the product.
- Proof of purchase: If possible, keep your original receipt or credit card records as proof of when and where you bought the food that made you ill.
- Contact your local health department: File a report with your county or local health department. This way, you are likely to find out about other incidents similar to yours. The department may also initiate an investigation if they receive several similar reports.
- Maintain a record of your losses: Save all receipts of doctor visits, tests, medication purchases, insurance statements and credit card bills. Also, document the number of days of work you missed and lost wages.
Liability and Damages
Food poisoning victims can pursue financial compensation from the party or parties responsible for the contamination. Potentially liable parties in food poisoning cases include food distributors, restaurants, suppliers, growers and processors. Food contamination can occur if the food is not prepared or stored properly or if the place where the food is made or processed is unsanitary. Victims in such cases can pursue compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Preventing Food-Borne Illnesses
There are several steps you can take to prevent food poisoning and cross contamination of foods at home:
- Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses can survive in many places around your kitchen including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking.
- Separate your foods. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs must be kept separate from other foods such as fruits and veggies. Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw produce and raw meat and/or eggs.
- Cook to the right temperature: Use a food thermometer to make sure that food reaches its safe minimum cooking temperature. For example internal temperatures for whole meats should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Eggs should be cooked until the yolk is firm.
- Refrigerate leftover foods promptly