Although severe food poisoning cases have become less frequent in the United States over the years, the CDC estimates there are still at least 128,000 hospitalizations related to foodborne illness annually – and 3,000 fatalities. As injury attorneys, our team at Habbas & Associates wanted to take a moment and review the basics of food service safety, as well as how to seek compensation after a foodborne illness strikes. With decades of experience in these matters, we can represent you in food poisoning claims and help you get the financial recovery you deserve.
Key Facts about Foodborne Illnesses
There are at least 250 known diseases that can be spread through contaminated or poorly-preserved food. Encompassing a diverse group of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, these food-related diseases also vary in severity, with some causing only minor symptoms and others causing long-term complications and death. Additionally, while most healthy adults can handle a moderate foodborne illness, these diseases can be life-threatening for young children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.
Here are a few of the most common foodborne illnesses:
- E.coli infections
- Clostridium perfringens
- Staphylococcus aureus or “staph” infections
- Hepatitis A
Common Food Service Safety Errors
In some cases, food service professionals and home cooks can avoid spreading foodborne illness by simply adhering to safety regulations, such as washing hands regularly and keeping all produce and meat at recommended temperatures. However, there are many other factors to keep in mind when you’re serving food for yourself or a group.
According to the FDA, the most frequent sources of food contamination include:
- Lack of personal hygiene: Whether you’re a professional cook or a home chef, it’s critical to wash your hands properly before and after touching food. It’s also important to wash hands after touching high-risk foods such as raw poultry, pork, and beef. The FDA recommends scrubbing your hands and arms vigorously with soap for at least 10 to 15 seconds, rinsing thoroughly afterward.
- Contaminated equipment and kitchen spaces: In a busy kitchen setting, it’s all too easy for equipment to become contaminated with dangerous pathogens – and then left out to contaminate other tools. You should always clean and sanitize all tools and surfaces in-between cooking tasks, taking the time to let them air dry.
- Poor refrigeration and temperature control: Most foods – both raw and cooked – have to be kept at a set temperature to fight bacteria and viruses. Food service professionals should always monitor stored food carefully and discard any food held for too long in its “danger zone.”
- Incorrect cooking procedures: Lastly, cooks need to be aware of the internal temperature for each food item. This is especially true when cooking animal products such as meat, which often need specific temperatures to eliminate pathogens.
How to Bring a Food Poisoning Claim
From restaurant owners to your next-door neighbors, anyone who offers you food has a basic responsibility to minimize the risk of food poisoning. Commercial food service professionals have an even higher “duty of care” to protect you from illness, as they are often exchanging these goods for your money. This is why anyone who handles food must have an up-to-date license to handle food in your state.
If you believe that someone’s negligence contributed to your serious food poisoning case, it’s a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney and explore your options. Depending on the nature of your illness, you may be able to recover compensation from the property owner, the people who handled your food, or a company that sold a defective food product. Applying over 200 years of legal experience, Habbas & Associates can help you find the root cause of your illness and pursue a claim.
Contact us at (888) 387-4053 today to speak with a qualified attorney.