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Chicago foodborne illness injury lawyerThere are many reasons why foods served at restaurants can become contaminated by infectious diseases or other toxic substances. Workers may not follow the correct sanitary procedures, such as fully washing their hands, cleaning surfaces where foods are prepared, and ensuring that food is stored properly. These issues can result in contaminations that may cause food poisoning, and foodborne illnesses can also occur if foods are not fully cooked. The risks of food poisoning were illustrated recently in a case that took place in Bloomington, Illinois.

At Least 16 People Affected by Foodborne Illness

On April 7, 2021, the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) received reports from personnel at Illinois State University that a number of people had symptoms indicating food poisoning. The MCHD did not state how many people were affected or where the infections were believed to have occurred. However, later reports stated that at least 16 people were affected, and 15 of those were members of the university’s lacrosse team. The reports also identified a Jimmy John’s restaurant in Bloomington as the probable source of food poisoning, and this restaurant has closed while the investigation is ongoing.

The MCHD has not yet identified the specific illness that affected the restaurant’s customers. Several of the people who contracted illnesses were hospitalized due to severe vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are consistent with food poisoning that may have been caused by bacteria or viruses such as:

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Chicago food poisoning attorneyYou have likely had the experience of eating a meal that tasted great at a restaurant, but quickly turned to days filled with a sick stomach. When you go out to eat, you expect to have a safe and healthy experience along with tasting great food. Unfortunately, eating at a restaurant can sometimes result in food poisoning. In fact, approximately 48 million cases of food poisoning occur each year. 

Depending on how the food was prepared and whether or not the restaurant’s cooking surfaces were properly sanitized, certain germs that are consumed can lead to food poisoning. This illness can range from mild to severe depending on the germs that you ingested and the way that your body reacts to them. 

If you have experienced any of the following symptoms after consuming contaminated food, you may have been a victim of food poisoning, and you may be able to take legal action:

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Illinois Salad Producer Has Third Food Poisoning Incident in Last Three YearsThe number of people who have been affected by the cyclospora salad outbreak has increased since we last reported it in June. As of July 24, 641 people in 11 states are confirmed to have contracted cyclospora, as well as more than 100 other people in Canada. Illinois has been the state with the most people infected, with 241 reported cases. Dozens of people have been hospitalized but no one has died. The cyclospora outbreak was linked to garden salads produced by Fresh Express in its Streamwood, Illinois, facility. Fresh Express has recalled the packaged salads, which were sold under various names at Jewel-Osco, ALDI, Walmart, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, and ShopRite. The fact that this is the third food poisoning outbreak in three years connected to Fresh Express and its Streamwood facility gives an additional reason for concern.

2018 Cyclospora Outbreak

From May to July in 2018, 511 people from 15 states, including Illinois, contracted cyclospora after eating salads sold at McDonald’s restaurants in the Midwest. Fresh Express was the supplier for McDonald’s salads at the time, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that a package of romaine lettuce and carrots from the Streamwood facility had tested positive for cyclospora. McDonald’s stopped selling salads that it purchased from Fresh Express and switched to a different supplier.

2019 E. Coli Outbreak

In November 2019, 10 people from five states, including one from Illinois, contracted a strain of E. coli that the FDA believed originated from Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits. The strain of E. coli was different from the strain in a concurrent incident involving contaminated romaine lettuce grown in California. The FDA was unable to determine which ingredient in the salad kit was contaminated and announced that the outbreak was over on Jan. 15.

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Developing Reactive Arthritis After Food PoisoningA case of food poisoning can affect your health long past your initial symptoms. One such lingering malady is reactive arthritis, a form of joint pain that can occur after your body has recovered from a bacterial infection. Reactive arthritis is uncommon – not everyone who contracts the same strain of bacterial infection will develop it – but can be very painful and last for several months, if not longer. If you can trace your reactive arthritis back to your food poisoning case, you may be able to file a lawsuit to receive compensation for your illness.

How Do People Get Reactive Arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is a form of rheumatoid arthritis that gets its name from researchers believing that it is an autoimmune disorder that reacts to a bacterial infection. For some people, their immune system continues to respond to the initial bacterial infection, causing inflammation in their joints. Reactive arthritis can occur after contracting a food-borne illness or a sexually transmitted infection. Food poisoning cases associated with reactive arthritis include:

Studies show that reactive arthritis most commonly occurs in people age 20 to 40 and that some people are genetically more prone to developing the condition.

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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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