On July 3, Foster Farms, a West Coast poultry company, announced it was recalling more than 1 million pounds of chicken products believed to possibly be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall follows a nearly nine month multistate outbreak of the disease, which has infected at least 621 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico. Four cases have been reported so far in Florida.
The chicken being recalled was sold under the Foster Farms or private label brands with a “use or freeze by” date ranging from March 16 through March 31, 2014, and Sundland chicken products with “best by” dates from March 7 through March 11, 2014. It was sent to retail outlets and distribution centers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Although most of these chicken products are no longer for sale at retailers, government authorities are encouraging consumers to check their home freezers for recalled items.
Foodborne Illness In The United States
Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick from foodborne diseases. Of these, 128,000 require hospitalization and approximately 3,000 die from their illness.
Foods Likely To Be Contaminated
The ten foods most likely to cause food poisoning are:
– Ground beef;
– Leafy greens;
– Alfalfa sprouts;
– Deli meats; and
According to the CDC, raw foods of animal origin are the most likely to be contaminated. This includes raw meats and poultry, raw eggs, unpasteurized milk, and raw shellfish.
Foods that mingle the products of individual animals (like bulk raw milk, ground beef, or eggs) are also particularly hazardous because if a germ gets in any one of the animals or products, it can contaminate the whole batch. For example, a single hamburger may contain meat from hundreds of animals, a glass of milk may contain milk from hundreds of cows, and a chicken carcass may be exposed to many thousands of other bird carcasses that went through the same water tank after slaughter.
How Contamination Occurs
According to the CDC, harmful pathogens can contaminate food at any phase of production, from the growing fields, to manufacturing facility processing, to restaurant food preparation.
Many foodborne microbes are present in healthy animals (usually in their intestines) raised for human food consumption. Meat and poultry can become contaminated by contact with these intestinal contents during slaughter.
Fruits and vegetables can become contaminated in the fields during irrigation or during processing if they come into contact with water that is contaminated with animal manure or human sewage.
Foodborne germs can also be introduced by humans who handle food with unwashed hands or who use a contaminated knife, cutting board, or other utensil to prepare the food. Food that has been fully cooked can become contaminated if it touches raw foods that contain germs.
Liability And Damages
Food poisoning victims can pursue financial compensation from the individuals or businesses responsible for the contamination. Some possible parties who may be responsible include food growers, processors, distributors, suppliers, and restaurants.
However, one of the greatest challenges in food poisoning cases is establishing where and when the food was contaminated and that it was, in fact, this particular contaminated food that caused the person to become ill. That is why it is important to seek medical attention for any incident of suspected food poisoning to document what was eaten, what the physical effects were, and to receive necessary treatment. It is also key to report the suspected case of food poisoning to local health authorities and provide any documentation or evidence related to the food itself or its purchase (such as a receipt or packaging).
If you have experienced damages from food poisoning, including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, and pain and suffering, you should also contact an experienced Tallahassee product liability lawyer to protect your legal rights to recover for your injuries. The attorneys at Fasig& Brooks will provide you with a free consultation regarding your possible legal claims for recovery. Call us today at (850) 222-3232.