As anyone who has ever had it knows, food poisoning is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. But it’s a common problem. The Center for Disease Control estimates that foodborne diseases cause about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Those in the food industry – from restaurants to grocers to food suppliers – have a responsibility to prevent or reduce food contamination by following all appropriate health and safety guidelines. While most businesses take these responsibilities seriously, others have a careless or reckless attitude toward food safety and end up jeopardizing your health.
Food contamination can result from:
- using rotten or unclean food
- using unsanitary or unclean equipment to prepare/handle food
- using illegal or dangerous pesticides/chemicals in food or on food-bearing surfaces
- preparing food in an unsanitary environment
- failing to wash hands before handling food
- failing to store food under proper conditions
- failing to train employees to engage in safe food handling practices
- failing to detect the presence of foreign objects in food
Symptoms of food poisoning
Food poisoning symptoms usually occur within 2-6 hours of eating the contaminated food. Signs of poisoning usually include: nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever and chills, headache, and weakness.
Whom to contact if your food is contaminated
Complaints about contaminated food should be reported to the appropriate agency as it can help prevent further contamination and others from falling ill.
- For contaminated restaurant, take-out, or catered food, notify both the food provider and your local health department. If possible, save the remainder of any food you’ve eaten, as it can be tested to identify which food contained the contaminants.
- For contaminated meat, poultry or eggs, contact the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), or file a complaint at their website.
- For all other contaminated food products, contact the Food and Drug Administration Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area. In Northern California, the number is (510) 337-6741; Southern California: (949) 608-3530.
What to do if you find a foreign object in your food
- Save the remainder of the food
- Take pictures of both the food and the foreign object
- Write a description of events leading up to the discovery of the foreign objects and the actions you took afterward
- Notify the food provider or manufacturer
- Contact the appropriate government agency to file a complaint
- Save any medical bills and expenses directly related to finding the foreign object in your food.
When to contact a products liability lawyer
If you or someone you love has become sick or died from eating contaminated food, talk to a contaminated food attorney as soon as possible. Depending upon the gravity of your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation of medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. An experienced products liability attorney can help determine whether you have a viable claim.
The California contaminated food attorneys at the Appel Law Firm LLP are committed to helping people that have suffered food poisoning and other illnesses due to the negligence of others receive compensation for their injuries and losses.