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Under Further Consideration: Taco Bell’s Salmonella Outbreak

Last week, our Chicago personal injury lawyers contemplated the practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after reports showed that the agency kept the public in the dark about food producers and restaurants that been linked to outbreaks of illnesses.

During the entirety of a three-month investigation into a salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refused to identify the manufacturer of tainted food, instead calling the food distributer “Restaurant Chain A.” Ultimately the outbreak was linked to Taco Bell fast-food chain restaurants.

Though the question arose as to whether or not the CDC acted appropriately in refusing to warn consumers when the government agency knew the source of the infection, the other issue at hand is Taco Bell’s liability after having disseminated diseased food products.

Illinois product liability law requires that when corporations put a product on the market, they are responsible for ensuring that the product is safe for consumer use. This is especially true for food manufacturers whose merchandise has to be thoroughly inspected before it is allowed to be distributed to the public. When dangerous or contaminated foods harm consumers, the corporations may be liable for the injuries caused and may be legally responsible for damages caused by those injuries. This may give rise to an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.

According to reports by MSNBC, officials have confirmed more than fifty cases of serious injury to customers as a result of this instance of foodborne illness.

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. Typical symptoms of Salmonella poisoning generally present in the form of diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. In more serious cases, victims may develop symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting that can last up to a week.

More literally than proverbially, in adding insult to injury, Taco Bell also failed to alert consumers to the potential of serious illness. Though the CDC defends the practice stating, “if there’s not an important public health reason to use the name publicly, CDC doesn’t use the name publicly,” if consumers had been aware of the potential for harm, they may have avoided consuming the infected foods and consequently evaded injury.

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling cases involving foodborne illnesses. In fact, our attorneys won a $4 million settlement awarded to three attendees at a national convention who contracted salmonella poisoning, leading to crippling arthritic injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered injury as a result of a foodborne illness, see a doctor immediately. Once a doctor has diagnosed your illness and provided appropriate treatment, you may consider the fact that if the food poisoning was one caused by either food from a restaurant or sold at a grocery store, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under the law.