As cases of food poisoning arise, many seek compensation from those responsible for the illness. A combination of commercialized farming and antibiotic resistant bacteria has made foodborne illness more prevalent than ever. Farms and processing centers often have difficulty adequately inspecting their products, allowing contaminated foods to reach consumers around the world. While most of these bacteria will only cause minor symptoms, some can result in a trip to the hospital and possibly even threaten a consumer’s life.
Salmonella Heidelberg is a virulent strain of bacteria that can make its way into the food supply if it is not caught during inspection. On October 12, 2013, in response to an outbreak of the bacteria, Costco began recalling thousands of chicken products under the Foster Farms label. As of November 15, 2013, 389 people have been infected with the bacteria, most in California. What has made this outbreak especially terrifying is that this strain of Salmonella is highly resistant to antibiotics, more so than most of its previously observed strains. As a result, the hospitalization rate for this outbreak is twice as high (about 40 percent) than other Salmonella outbreaks. Even worse, the rate of sepsis (or infection reaching the blood) is three times higher than normal. This has caused a massive rate of severe infections, though no deaths have been reported as of yet. Children and the elderly are at particular risk because their immune systems have more trouble coping with Salmonella.
Following a severe bout of food poisoning, compensation may be attainable for victims. Many farms and processing companies do not inspect their products thoroughly enough, leaving the consumer at risk. Families should not have to worry about the safety of what they eat, as the consumer essentially entrusts farms and processing facilities with their health. When that trust is violated, victims may have legal options.
After suffering from foodborne illness, it can be difficult to attain restitution in some states. Many states allow victims to sue using strict product liability laws, meaning the victim has to show that the company’s product caused their illness. However, some states require the victim to show that the company was also negligent in how they supplied or manufactured the product. In addition to these laws, some states also require companies to maintain a minimum level of standards on their products. These are known as implied warranties. In these states, contaminated food may constitute a breach of warranty and provide an avenue for litigation.
Many parties may be held responsible for an outbreak of food poisoning. Compensation may be obtained from the supplier, the manufacturer, or any other party that handles the product between the producer and the consumer. The retailer may also be liable for damages if they are found to be negligent in handling the product.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help a victim or family impacted by contaminated products. While bacteria, like Salmonella, may not be life threatening for some, they can cause serious damage to the body and may even require expensive medical attention.