Articles Posted in Food Poisoning 1

One of the most popular casual restaurants in the country has recently been in the spotlight in recent news over the past few weeks. However, the spotlight has not been a positive one. Chipotle Mexican Grill has been the focus of attention for a case of food poisoning that has not only affected a high volume of people, but has also been extended in length with no solution as of yet.

An article by Forbes discusses the recent outbreak of food poisoning and the popular restaurant’s negative criticisms. For instance, this past month, approximately 140 people mainly from Boston College, were recovering from a serious case of norovirus-caused gastroenteritis. The foodborne illness stemmed from eating Chipotle’s meat and produce.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been tracking this outbreak, which has shown to be widespread throughout the country. There have been incidents of Chipotle food poisoning in California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. While we have previously blogged about how in many instances those most vulnerable to foodborne illnesses are the very young, very old, or those with weakened immune systems, this outbreak has been so significant that it has impacted people all across the board in age. According to the same article, the victims have ranged in age from one year old through 94.
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While food poisoning and product recalls are always a call for concern, they are especially alarming when this occurs in regards to a large company and common household name. In these instances, the affected products, and by result number of potentially at risk individuals, is a significantly larger pool due to the immense size of the negligent company.

This is the exact issue and cause for concern in a recent post by the International Business Times. Kraft Heinz has recalled more than 2 million pounds of Oscar Mayer turkey bacon. This occurred after customers began reporting illnesses after consuming the product, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The article explains that the packages may expire sooner than what is inscribed on the label and could be adulterated.

There have been three varieties of turkey bacon at issue. These were produced between May 31st and August 6th. The specific products are the Oscar Mayer Selected Uncured Turkey Bacon, the Oscar Mayer Smoked Cured Turkey Chopped and Formed in the smaller size, and the Oscar Mayer Smoked Cured Turkey Chopped and Formed in the larger size. The Selects Uncured Turkey Bacon comes in 56 oz. cardboard boxes containing four plastic-wrapped packages and consists of plant number P-9070 and UPC 044700076330. The smaller size of the cured turkey comes is 36 oz. cardboard boxes with three plastic-wrapped packages with plant number P-9070 and UPC 071871548748, while the larger size comes in 48 oz. cardboard boxes with four plastic-wrapped packages and plant number P-9070 and UPC 071871548793.
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According to a recent article by Yahoo! Health, there have been 737 recalls of food since January 2014 alone by the Food and Drug Administration. Many of the recalls have been due to undeclared allergen ingredients (ex: nuts) or a confirmed contamination.

However, some companies have sold contaminated food more often than others. According to that same article, Whole Foods is at the top of a list of companies that have been forced to recall food. Since the beginning of 2014, Whole Foods has had 26 store-brand products recalled. What is alarming is that even though Whole Foods accounts for the store with the highest number of recalls, they still only account for 3% of all recalls issued in the United States during that time period. This means that recalls are not just centralized by one offender, but are unfortunately spread out among many grocers and sellers, suggesting that there may be no one seller that hasn’t been culpable of providing dangerous products to consumers.

Recently, food safety has been a major issue throughout the United States. According to the same article, just in the month of April, a large and diverse array of food products has required recall for food poisoning and safety concerns. These have included hummus, ice cream, and a variety of dairy products. The article relayed that many recalls have also involved prepared foods. Since 2014, 10% of recalls have included ready-made meals – a type of convenience food where you can purchase an already prepared meal from your local grocery store that they have prepared for customers.
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Now that the weather is getting warmer and spring is hitting Chicago, it’s about that time of year for a warm-weather favorite treat: ice cream. Soon lines will start forming on hot summer nights at neighborhood ice joint favorites. Ice cream trucks will start driving through town with their catchy jingles to alert you of their delicious treats for sale. Unfortunately a recent recall draws attention to potential food poisoning risks associated with one popular store bought ice cream brand.

According to a recent article by the New York Post. Blue Bell Creameries has issued an all-product recall for potential listeria contamination. They issued this recall after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, which is a potentially deadly bacteria. The recall includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks. The recall affects 23 states and international locations, including Illinois. The illness was eventually tracked to two different company locations in two different states.

The article elaborates about a rather unsettling fact: the company cannot even say how the bacteria was introduced into the facilities. This begs the question about quality of the safety regulations and oversight within the company and its production area. The most recent contamination was discovered only after a testing program was initiated by the company after the first recall. It is interesting to ponder why this testing was not already in place. Last month the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the contaminated ice cream to three deaths and five illnesses occurring in more than one state. This is a serious and widespread case of foodborne illness. However, this is the first recall in the company’s 108 years of operation. Blue Bell is now implementing a new process to test all of its products before releasing them to the market. However, under product liability law, it is already the legal duty of companies and manufacturers to inspect their products to discover dangers.
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Going out to a favorite restaurant is a way for many to spend quality time and socialize with their family and friends. When we go to a restaurant, we expect this to be a fun and relaxing time. What we do not expect though, is to become ill or injured from food poisoning from the restaurants we patronize.

According to a recent post by ABC News, 100 restaurant patrons recently suffered food poisoning. Because the law of the state where the injuries originated does not allow disclosing the source of the food or contamination, it is being labeled as the “food source.” Dozens of lawyers and law students became ill after dining in an establishment in the local area’s Chinatown. Some were bedridden and others had to seek medical attention. The owner of the restaurant has denied responsibility, claiming that maybe they could have all gotten a cold or drank too much. However, two weeks prior to this outbreak, a Health Department employee cited the establishment for multiple violations, such as lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom. This was also a repeat violation.
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Often, when we think of food poisoning, we think of under-cooked or contaminated meat or meat products. However, as our readers know from our recent blog post, food poisoning is actually extremely common as the result of eating contaminated produce and vegetable-based food products. Shockingly, food poisoning is actually higher from consuming produce than from consuming meat. In summary of that post, studies have shown that food poisoning may now be more common from produce consumption because of a decrease in meat consumption, the fact that produce is more often eaten raw than cooked which does not always remove bacteria, and that produce can be cross-contaminated by meat from being produced at the same facility.

A recent listeria outbreak exemplifies the dangers of foodborne illnesses stemming from contaminated vegetable-based products. According to a report by ABC News, Amy’s Kitchen frozen entrees are in the midst of a major recall for listeria-contaminated spinach. The organic food company is undergoing a major recall of over 74,000 items because of listeria found in its spinach. Three other companies are also undergoing a recall for their spinach products too, including Rising Moon Organics, Superior Foods, and Twin City Foods. Amy’s Kitchen and these three companies all received listeria-contaminated spinach from the same organic spinach supplier: Coastal Green. The supplier discovered listeria during testing, and realized that some of its products that were already shipped out were at high risk of contamination as well.

It is important to understand how serious listeria is. According to the same article by ABC, listeria is a bacteria that lives in the digestive tracts of animals but is likely to cause the illness listeriosis when humans consume it. Like we discussed in our recent post mentioned above, this occurs when produce is contaminated by animal waste, such as by dirty wash water through tainted irrigation, animals were in the field, or through cross-contamination when meat and produce are manufactured in the same facility.
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We have often talked about the dangers of food poisoning, and how sometimes food poisoning isn’t just like a bout of the flu. In fact, in some cases, food poisoning is so intense that it can leave people with permanent injuries and the need for hospitalization and serious medical care. In one food poisoning case, our attorneys represented individuals who were injured from the food they ate at a conference, and they suffered injuries so severe that they incurred crippling arthritic injuries.

However, many of the times we’ve discussed food poisoning, we’ve discussed it in regards to meat. As many of us are aware, when meat is not properly handled or cooked the proper temperature, it can cause serious illness such as salmonella poisoning or e.coli. Furthermore, the manufacturers and grocers from which we buy our foods have a legal duty to inspect food for contamination and remove it from the stream of commerce where they find dangerous defects, or where a food is inherently unsafe for consumption unless properly handled (such as meats), then the seller must properly label the food product with instructions and warnings. When a danger is not removed or a customer is not warned, the consumer may suffer illness and injury as a result. However, the same goes with vegetables.

According to a recent study by the Centers For Disease Control and analyzed in an article by Vox, fruits and vegetables actually cause more instances of food poisoning than beef and chicken. The CDC analyzed cases of food poisoning from 2008 to 2012 and examined the four most common pathogens: E. coli, Campylobacter, salmonella, and listeria. Produce actually causes nearly half of all foodborne illnesses. Dairy and eggs cause approximately 20% of illnesses, fish are the cause in 6% of cases, and meat is the cause in a surprisingly 22% of cases.
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A favorite aisle for many at our local supermarkets is the frozen food section. The frozen food section is notorious for people’s favorite snack foods like ice cream and frozen pizzas but also provides reliable staple foods like frozen vegetables so that people can have healthy foods with a long shelf life. However, even though frozen foods are not the same as the fresh picked fruits and vegetables of the produce section, stores and manufacturers still have a legal duty of care to provide safe goods to consumers.

A recent news release distributed by Ateeco, Inc., Mrs. T’s parent company, announced that Mrs. T’s Pierogies has issued a recall due to plastic contamination in the food. After a Quality Assurance check, plastic was found in the filling of the product. The product at issue, the 16-ounce tomato and basil variety, is recalled due to the plastic contamination which poses a choking hazard. These products were sold at various grocery stores in eight states, including Illinois. They contain “best by dates” of either 05/20/16 or 07/15/16.

Our lawyers believe that customers should be able to trust that the food they buy and eat should be safe for consumption. Unfortunately though, food is one of the most common categories of items arising under product recalls and product liability lawsuits. Under this area of law, it is the duty of a store and manufacturer to inspect their products for dangers, warn consumers of known dangers, and remove the dangerous items from the stream of commerce. Where unsafe products are available for purchase in the marketplace, this is evident of negligence and a breach of that duty of care owed to customers. If someone suffers injury or wrongful death as the result of this negligence and dangers that should have never existed in a product and made available to a customer, the injured party or family may file a product liability lawsuit to hold the wrongdoing and negligent parties accountable for their breach.
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It is easily agreed upon that the food we eat should be safe for consumption. When we purchase food from the store, we should never have to fear that it will cause us serious illness or death. It is not only something we should be able to trust, but it is also the law to provide safe-to-eat foods to consumers.

According to an article by Food Safety News, there has been an ongoing outbreak of listeria infections linked to Latin-style soft cheese produced by Queseria Bendita. Since mid-January there have been three cases of listeria. Two people required hospitalization, and there was one death. As of now, the firm has stopped producing cheese. The cheeses at issue are Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson. Any consumers who have this cheese at home in their refrigerators are ordered to throw it out and not eat it. Grocery stores have been directed to pull the product off the shelves and not sell it.

This is not the first time this firm has had to make a recall for listeria. According to the same article, Queseria Bendita recalled these same three cheeses five years ago for listeria contamination. This instance also caused several cases of illness.
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Every week, millions of people go to local grocers and supermarkets to buy foods and goods for their week ahead. Among the most popular of foods are meat products, such as beef, poultry, and fish. However, while these are among the most popular for being an excellent source of nutrition and protein, they are also some that require the most diligence to care and safety by producers and sellers. It is a common fact that when meat is not properly handled that such negligence can result in a contaminated product that is unsafe for consumption.

However, consumers trust that producers and sellers inspect and produce meat with adequate care. As consumers, we also expect that when such care is used, dangers can be discovered and that dangerous or contaminated meat will not reach store shelves and that we will not inadvertently purchase a product that is dangerous, unknowing to us.

Producers and sellers must notify consumers when they have thoroughly inspected a product, but know that a danger still exists but can be eradicated through properly handling. This is most often done through proper labeling and warnings. For instance, when you purchase a package of chicken from the grocery store, you notice that the labeling on the meat warns you about salmonella, how to properly handle raw meat, to wash hands and utensils that hand handled the meat, and to what temperatures it should be cooked to avoid foodborne illnesses. This labeling and warning is done as part of a seller’s duty of care under product liability law to warn consumers of known dangers.
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