Foodborne Illness, Contamination

You dine at a high-priced restaurant. Everything tastes great, but within hours your stomach is responding like it’s been forced to digest a freight train. Or, your friend buys you a drink, but after a toast you find that what you thought was ice, was really shards of broken glass, and you find yourself spitting up glass and blood. But, what really worries you, is thinking about what you may have swallowed.

Welcome to what lawyers call food contamination and foodborne illness cases. Obviously, glass or other objects are not supposed to contaminate our drinks or foods. But careless handling of food products can result in dangerous contamination. Unfortunately, that happens all too often.

The shards of glass in someone’s drink example is from a real case that we handled. How did it happen? The evidence established that an employee charged with washing dishes broke several drinking glasses, and broken glass made its way into a bucket used to fill an ice machine. The glass shards were about the size of ice cubes, so the contamination was not discovered until the customer started spitting up blood after severing a nerve in her mouth.

Another recent case we had involved a batch of protein bars that were sold without  necessary preservatives. Although the bars tasted okay to the customer, they were spoiled. Protein bars require a more careful preservative balance than do other food products, such as cookies.

Another case we handled recently involved a toddler sharing food off of an adult’s plate at a fancy restaurant. The adults all became ill with salmonella, but as adults their immune systems fought back. The toddler, however, required antibiotics and a lengthy hospital stay, but eventually recovered.

Foodborne illnesses and food contamination cases are not easy to prove. Restaurants and food packagers fight hard to avoid admitting that their food made someone ill, whether as a result of poor sanitation contamination or careless preparation. But what they may dislike more, however, is getting a call from our office and having to respond to a lawsuit alleging that they negligently injured a customer  and that we have the proof needed to hold them responsible.

If you or a loved one suffers an illness or injury as a result of food contamination, please give us a call. We would be happy to consult with you free of charge and help you analyze your case.

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