Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning can occur when an individual eats food which contains dangerous bacteria or other pathogen, including parasites or viruses. This dangerous affliction can cause numerous painful symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, and dehydration, among others.

On December 21, 2010, the Unites States Congress passed legislation known as the “Food Safety Modernization Act.” The law was enacted to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe by changing the focus of government regulation from responding to contamination to prevention. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that more than 100,000 people are hospitalized each year due to foodborne illness, and thousands of people die annually due to this persistent problem. Among the elements of the new legislation, importers (who provide 15 % of the U.S. food supply, including 60 % of fresh fruit and 80 % of seafood) will be required to perform supplier verification to ensure that imported food is safe; the FDA can refuse admission of an imported food if the foreign supplier doesn’t comply with an inspection; and the FDA is authorized to require certification that the imported food is in compliance with food safety requirements. Most significantly, for the first time, the U.S. government will have mandatory recall authority regarding all food products.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are seven common bacteria and two parasites that most frequently transmit disease through food. These are Campylobacter, Listeria, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Cyclospora, Escherichia coli O157 and non-O157 (commonly known as E-coli), Shigella, and Yersinia and Vibrio. The CDC obtains its information from a program known as “Foodnet”, or Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, which is a system that collects data from 10 states, involving 46 million Americans, or roughly 15% of the U.S. population.

Based on information obtained in 2007, the CDC determined that foodborne disease outbreaks (FBDO’s) were caused by the following: 38% due to viruses; 34% due to bacteria; 24% of unknown causes; and 1% from either chemicals or parasites. There were 1,097 foodborne disease outbreaks, with 21,244 instances of foodborne illness, and 18 fatalities. One of the most common causes of foodborne illness is the norovirus, which accounts for almost 50% of reported illnesses. Salmonella was the next most frequent cause, being attributed to 27% of illnesses. Regarding deaths, the most common cause was bacteria, with 11 of the 18 fatalities due to bacteria and five of those as a result of Salmonella. The CDC notes that in a majority of cases, foodborne illness is preventable, and the motto they espouse is “Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.”

Restaurants, food stands, supermarkets, delicatessens and health food stores are legally responsible to serve food in their facilities which is safe for human consumption. If they fail to do so, they can be sued if an individual suffers food borne illness from eating at their establishment.

If you have suffered injury from a foodborne illness, you need an attorney who is fully versed in the new regulations in the field of foodborne illness, safety and enforcement. The Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys at the White Plains, New York Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel have the experience, knowledge, background, and dedication to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries, lost earnings, medical and hospital expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life. If you are the victim of foodborne illness, please contact our office for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail with an experienced trial attorney.