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Cyclospora in Salads Sickens Dozens in IllinoisMore than 200 people in the midwestern U.S. have been diagnosed with cyclosporiasis after eating packaged salads sold in grocery stores. Illinois is one of the states that has been most affected by the cyclospora outbreak, with at least 57 people having been diagnosed from May 11 to June 17. The contamination has been traced to Fresh Express salad packages that contain iceberg lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots. The product goes by different names depending on where the product is sold, including:

  • ALDI Little Salad Bar Garden Salads
  • Hy-Vee Garden Salad
  • Jewel-Osco Signature Farms Garden Salad
  • Walmart Marketside Classic Iceberg Salad

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still investigating whether there are additional contaminated Fresh Express salad packages that are sold under other names.

Dangers of Cyclosporiasis

At least 23 of the people recently diagnosed with cyclosporiasis have been hospitalized because of the severity of their symptoms. Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal infection caused by consuming food or drink that contains the cyclospora parasite. Cyclospora is most commonly found in produce that is grown in tropical climates, where the parasite is most prevalent and can spread from the feces of humans and animals who have it.

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Nuts Have History of Food Poisoning OutbreaksWhen people mention the health risks associated with eating nuts, allergies may be what first comes to mind. Many parents are aware of how exposure to nut products can endanger children with nut allergies. Food manufacturers and sellers can be liable if a person has an allergic reaction because the product did not disclose that it contained nuts. However, there have also been several instances in the U.S. of food poisoning that is related to nuts being sold in stores. Though they are rarer than allergic reactions, the outbreaks can be harmful to those who consume the contaminated nuts.

Illinois Company Recalls Macadamia Nuts

NOW Health Group Inc. has voluntarily recalled packages of macadamia nuts because of potential salmonella contamination. The Illinois-based company discovered the contamination when testing one of its macadamia nut lots, some of which had already been packaged and sent to retailers. The recall applies to packages that are labeled “NOW Real Food Raw Macadamia Nuts” with a best by date of 01/2021. Symptoms from a salmonella infection can take six hours to six days to appear and usually include diarrhea, cramping, and fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization or antibiotics.

Though this case applies to macadamia nuts, past food poisoning cases have involved a variety of shelled and unshelled nuts:

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What Are the Different Types of Botulism?Botulism is a rare but dangerous bacterial infection that is often caused by food poisoning. Symptoms from botulism start with weakness in the face, which can cause blurred vision, slurred speech, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. Symptoms continue down the body, often causing abdominal pain and vomiting. A mild case of botulism can take weeks to months to recover from, while a severe case could take years. If left untreated, botulism is potentially fatal. One of the tricky aspects of tracking the origin of a botulism case is that there are multiple ways that a person can contract the botulinum toxin. Knowing which type of botulism you have can determine whether you will be successful in filing a food poisoning lawsuit:

  1. Foodborne Botulism: The most common form of botulism is the type that you get from eating contaminated food. When processed foods are not properly sealed, the botulinum toxin is able to grow to the point that it becomes dangerous for consumption. Botulism is commonly associated with canning fruits and vegetables at home, when people may not tightly seal their preserved foods. However, it is also possible to contract botulism from commercially processed foods.
  2. Infant Botulism: Infants can develop botulism when spores in their intestines grow and become toxic. An infant’s digestive system is not able to fully break down spores that naturally appear in foods such as honey. As a result, the spores may linger in their intestines and grow.
  3. Adult Intestinal Toxemia: Similar to infant botulism, some adults have difficulty digesting spores, allowing them to become toxic bacteria inside the digestive tract. This is a rare condition that is most likely to occur in someone who has pre-existing gastrointestinal problems.
  4. Wound Botulism: People can develop botulism if bacteria infect an opening on the body and become toxic. Wound botulism most commonly occurs with people who suffer a severe injury or use drugs that they inject into their bodies.
  5. Iatrogenic Botulism: You may have heard of botulinum toxin used by another name: Botox. Cosmetic surgeons inject small amounts of the botulinum toxin into patients’ faces in order to remove wrinkles. An overdose of the botulinum toxin can cause botulism.

Contact an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

People diagnosed with botulism may be able to quickly narrow down the likely source of their infection if they have never had cosmetic injections, are drug-free, or have not suffered serious wounds recently. An Illinois food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP, will help you track down the source of your foodborne illness. Schedule a consultation by calling 312-981-0409.

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Three Common Mistakes with Food SafetyConsumers share some of the responsibility for food safety to prevent themselves from getting sick. Though negligence by food producers can cause contamination, you may create your own food poisoning risk if you do not practice food safety. Consumers are often warned about washing produce, thoroughly cooking foods, and refrigerating items that could spoil. Our understanding of how food becomes contaminated is growing, and there are some consumer habits that seem sensible but actually increase the risk of food poisoning. You should avoid committing these common food safety mistakes:

  1. Tasting or Smelling Food to Tell If It Is Spoiled: We have all been in a situation where we are unsure whether old food in our refrigerator is still safe to eat. If you do not see signs of mold or discoloration, you may move onto the smell or taste test. There are two problems with this method. Firstly, you cannot always rely on taste or smell to determine whether food is spoiled. It may seem just fine but contain harmful bacteria. Secondly, a small taste of contaminated food may be enough to make you sick. You should always err on the side of caution and throw out food that may be spoiled.
  2. Allowing Food to Cool Down Before Refrigerating: When you have finished preparing and serving hot food, it may be cumbersome to immediately put away the leftovers in the refrigerator. While it may seem harmless to allow the food to cool off, leaving food at room temperature for more than two hours can allow bacteria to grow in it. If you are not keeping the food constantly heated, you need to refrigerate it if you want to be able to safely eat it again.
  3. Washing Raw Meats: Raw meat or poultry can contain harmful bacteria that are killed when you cook them. Common wisdom used to be that you should wash the meat in the sink before preparing it. However, washing raw meat increases the risk of cross-contamination. The water is not killing the bacteria. Instead, it is spreading the bacteria to other surfaces that it is contacting, such as the sink or countertops.

Contact an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

When you use proper food safety but still get sick, another party may have been responsible for your food poisoning. An Illinois food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland LLP can help narrow down the like culprits for your food poisoning case. To schedule a consultation, call 312-981-0409.

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Chipotle Fined $25 Million for Repeated Food Poisoning OutbreaksRestaurants are the source of numerous food poisoning incidents each year for which they may or may not be responsible. Sometimes, the restaurant will unknowingly use contaminated food and the food supplier is the liable party. Other times, the restaurant may have caused the incident if it was negligent in safely preparing the food or maintaining a clean kitchen. If a single restaurant or chain of restaurants is involved in multiple food poisoning incidents, health officials may investigate the food safety practices of the restaurants. Officials can even recommend that criminal charges be brought against the restaurant for serving contaminated food.

Chipotle Pays Record Fine

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California fined Chipotle Mexican Grill $25 million for two counts of severing adulterated food in its restaurant. Chipotle agreed to pay the fine – which is the largest ever for a food safety case – and claimed that it has already spent millions more to improve its food safety practices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration traced at least five food poisoning outbreaks to the restaurant from 2015 to 2018 that are believed to have sickened more than 1,100 people. The cases included multiple norovirus outbreaks in different restaurants across the country. The allegations against the company included:

  • Improper training of employees in food safety practices
  • Not keeping food at high enough temperatures to prevent the spread of pathogens
  • Employees feeling pressured to continue working despite feeling sick
  • Restaurant managers not reporting incidents of employees vomiting at work to company safety officials until after customers complained about becoming sick

Norovirus is a pathogen that can be easily spread in a restaurant if infected employees are handling the food. Symptoms from norovirus can take 12 to 48 hours to develop and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Most patients improve in one-to-three days.

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