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Food Intended For Man’s Best Friend Inadvertently Poisons Pet Owners

Illnesses from food poisoning can be alarming, but perhaps even more terrifying are cases in which you don’t even have to eat the food to be sickened by it; in those types of situations, identifying the contaminated product and holding the negligent company can prove to be even more difficult.

Fortunately, however, a number of cases of a recent potentially deadly outbreak have been linked back to a particular source: dog food.

According to a recent article on MSNBC, Diamond Pet Foods, a U.S.-based commercial pet food manufacturer, has expanded a recall of its dry dog food, taking precautionary steps after several of its brands were linked to an outbreak of a rare strain of salmonella poisoning that infected at least 14 people in nine states. The common link between all of the victims were that they had dogs or dog foods prior to their illness.

Diamond Pet Foods has dog food manufacturing plants across the country. In fact, Diamond’s main line is not the only pet food brand whose products pose risks to customers: other product lines produced by Diamond, such as Canidae Pet Foods, Apex Pet Foods, Natural Balance Pet Foods, and Chicken Soup For the Dog Lover’s Soul Foods have all pulled products from the market because of the potential for salmonella contamination. Additionally, Kaytee Pet Foods has taken its Forti-Diet Pro Health Mouse, Rat and Hamster food off the market for the same concerns. No word has been released on the effects of the poisoning to the pets for whom the food was originally intended, but the effects to the pet owners has been devastating.

Salmonella is a form of bacteria generally found in cold- and warm-blooded animals. Infections usually arise following consumption of foods contaminated with the bacteria. Although all persons are at risk for developing salmonella poisoning, infants, the elderly, and adults with compromised or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infection. Salmonella contamination can arise from a number of sources, but commonly comes from such sources as infected food, poor kitchen hygiene, bodily fluids from sick individuals, and polluted water. According to MSNBC, more than 2,500 forms of salmonella are known to exist, but in this particular epidemic all victims were infected with an extremely rare form of the infection.

Corporations that produce and distribute food owe a duty of care to their customers; manufacturers of all types of consumer goods are responsible for ensuring that the products they distribute to the public are safe for human use, but this is especially true when companies disseminate food. When an individual falls ill because of a contaminated food product, the company responsible for causing that illness may be made to pay to compensate the consumer. Damages in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit, such as one that may arise in this case, might include such things as hospital and medical bills, as well as money lost from an inability to work.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report estimating that each year roughly 48 million people are sickened by a foodborne illness. Of those, 125,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die after consuming contaminated foods purchased from retail stores or restaurants. Here, though, the victims didn’t even have to ingest the product – just handle it or be in its proximity – to become sick, which is illustrative of the strength of this particular strain of bacteria.

The affected products were distributed to 16 states across the U.S., including Illinois. To date, Diamond Pet Foods has recalled a total of nine brands of its dry dog food.

Victims of foodborne illnesses who suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or death may be able to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages, if a manufacturer or distributer is responsible for the failure to contain the infection. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling Illinois food poisoning cases, including a $4 million settlement for three convention attendees who contracted salmonella poisoning that caused them to suffer crippling arthritic injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered from a foodborne illness, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will be able to diagnose if you have been infected with salmonella poisoning. Additionally, an attorney may be able to apprise you of your rights under the law.