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CDC’s Secret-Keeping Harms Consumers

If we’re not told the source of contamination, how are we supposed to avoid becoming infected?

That’s exactly what our Chicago personal injury lawyers are wondering, having read a recent report by MSNBC that stated that, whenever possible, government officials use tactics to keep the public in the dark about which food producers and restaurants have been linked to illnesses.

This report came on the heels of a three-month investigation into a salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states. Instead of warning consumers when they knew the source of the infection, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refused to identify the manufacturer of the tainted food, instead calling it “Restaurant Chain A.”

In fact, reported MSNBC, that’s the second time in a little over a year that the government agency has masked the source of a foodborne illness; in the fall of 2010, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that 155 people in 21 states were sickened by two rare strains of salmonella traced to an anonymous Mexican-style fast-food chain eventually identified as Taco Bell.

Under Illinois law, companies that manufacture and market food have a responsibility to ensure that foods they produce are safe for human consumption. When a food manufacturer, distributer, or restaurant disseminates an infected food product to the public and a consumer is sickened or injured as a result, that company may be held legally responsible and may be made to pay for damages that result from the injury.

According to 2010 estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 48 million people are sickened each year by a foodborne illness; of those, more than 125,000 people require hospitalization and 3,000 die after consuming contaminated fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts and processed foods in their homes or in restaurants. Nevertheless, these are the same government officials keeping secret the names of the responsible companies, which prevent consumers from being able to make choices to protect themselves.

Reported MSNBC, Dr. Robert Tauxe, a top CDC official, defended the agency’s practice of withholding company identities, which he said aims to protect not only public health, but also the bottom line of businesses that could be hurt by bad publicity. Still, our Chicago personal injury lawyers know that preventing illness before it has a chance to harm consumers is the best possible solution.

People who suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or death due to illness from contaminated foods may be able to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages from those responsible for providing or distributing the food. Damages include such things as lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of the companionship of a loved one who has died from the illness. Our Illinois food poisoning attorneys have extensive experience handling these types of cases, and understand what it takes to be successful in even the most complicated Illinois food poisoning cases. In fact, our attorneys obtained a $4 million settlement against a hotel chain, on behalf of three convention attendees who contracted salmonella poisoning that caused them to suffer crippling arthritic injuries.

If you or a loved one has suffered illness due to a foodborne illness – either from a restaurant or purchased from a grocery store – contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law.