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 rolling meadows food poisioning lawyerA quick look around any discount store or department store will prove it: “back-to-school” season is officially here. Weatherwise, we are at the height of summer, but in a few short weeks, children throughout Illinois and across the country will soon return to the classroom. If you are the parent of school-aged children, your to-do list is probably starting to grow, but keeping your children safe is always a top priority. With this in mind, we will spend the next few posts talking about the importance of food safety as it pertains to your child’s lunch box. Today, we are focusing on safe food prep practices that reduce the chances of your child developing a foodborne illness.

Cold Packs and Insulation

Your child’s school lunch safety starts long before the lunch bell rings. In fact, as you are doing your back-to-school shopping, there are a few things that should be on your list that can help prevent food poisoning. Specifically, you should consider getting insulated lunch bags or boxes and cold packs to go in them.

Novelty lunch boxes have long been a part of school lunches, but as nostalgic as we might be for the Transformers, My Little Pony, or Star Wars boxes of our youth, older designs contributed virtually nothing to food safety. Instead, look for boxes or bags that feature a layer of insulation to keep contents cold. In addition, be sure to pick up a few cold packs or ice packs. Keep enough on hand that your child’s lunch will stay cold even if they forgot to put yesterday’s ice packs back in the freezer.

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shutterstock_1202645242.jpgEach year, dozens of food products in the United States are recalled due to the food poisoning risk they present. Sadly, many recalls do not happen until a few people—or more—have already gotten sick after consuming the food product. Thankfully, many others are initiated before reports of foodborne illness start rolling in.

Despite these efforts to keep the public safe, it is not uncommon for people to continue getting sick even after a recall has been issued. To prevent this and to keep yourself protected, it is important to know where you get food recall information and what you should do if you find a recalled product in your refrigerator or pantry.

Keeping Abreast of Food Recalls

Orders for food recalls generally come from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These government entities are responsible for food safety, as well as investigations into food poisoning outbreaks. It is also possible for a food producer to issue a preemptive and voluntary recall upon learning about possible contamination.

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IL injury lawyerWhen an individual contracts a foodborne illness after eating contaminated food, he or she may suffer a wide variety of symptoms and health concerns. In addition to the direct effects of food poisoning, the person in question might also experience other issues that could negatively affect his or her overall well-being. One of these secondary issues or complications is called reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis can cause severe pain that affects the individual’s ability to work and perform their daily tasks.

A Look at Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is not fully understood by the medical community, and it is a relatively uncommon condition. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, as it seems to be a condition in which the body’s immune system goes after healthy tissue. In some cases, reactive arthritis occurs as part of the physiological response to a gastrointestinal infection, including an infection caused by food poisoning.

It is difficult to describe an “average” case of reactive arthritis, but symptoms generally start to appear between one and six weeks after the original infection. Depending on the person, symptoms can last from a couple of weeks to several months, and in some cases, symptoms can become chronic and life-altering.

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IL injury lawyerThis week, families around Northern Illinois and across the country gathered to celebrate Independence Day. For many people, such celebrations include backyard cookouts with massive spreads of delicious food of all types.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to attend a Fourth of July cookout and then come home feeling a bit unwell. Before long, you might feel quite ill and have symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. You might even recognize the situation as attributable to something you ate, but the term “food poisoning” might feel like a stretch. However, the reality is that if something you ate made you sick and food allergies are not to blame, there is a good chance that you are, in fact, suffering from food poisoning.

Potential Liability for the Host

Over the last few weeks, posts on this blog have offered some summer cookout safety tips so that those who host backyard meals can help prevent their guests from getting sick. However, foodborne illnesses are still possible at summer cookouts. The first potential source of liability for summer cookout food poisoning is the person who hosts the get-together.

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IL injury lawyerOver the last couple of blog posts, we have talked about some of the ways to keep your guests from contracting foodborne illnesses during your summer cookouts. Previously, we have discussed maintaining a clean grill and proper handling procedures for meats, chicken, and seafood. While grilling is a big part of most summer cookouts, there is often a variety of other foods that help to complete a backyard meal. With several months of warm weather — and numerous opportunities for cookouts — still to go this year, it is time to talk about keeping the side dishes safe as well.

Maintaining Safe Temperatures

Most backyard barbecues are more or less buffet-style meals, especially those that involve larger numbers of guests. The most basic food safety rule for buffet-style meals is to keep foods hot if they are supposed to be hot and cold if they are supposed to be cold. Hot means above 140° F, and cold means below 40° F. The “danger zone” for food safety is between these temperatures, and food should not be left in the danger zone for longer than two hours. If the outdoor temperature is above 90° F, food should not be in the danger zone for longer than one hour. Dangerous bacteria can multiply very quickly in the danger zone.

Here are a few tips for keeping food safe:

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