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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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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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Uncooked Shrimp Can Contain Harmful BacteriaThere are cultures in which raw shrimp is considered a delicacy. However, food scientists do not recommend eating raw shrimp because of the risk of food poisoning. Shrimp can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Normally, cooking shrimp will be enough to kill the contaminants that naturally appear, making them safe to eat. However, pre-cooked shrimp served and sold in retail establishments have been known to carry bacteria and viruses that can cause people to become ill upon eating them.

Cooked Shrimp Recalled Due to Bacteria

In March, AFC Distribution Corp. recalled its Cooked Butterfly Tail-On Whiteleg Shrimp because it may have been contaminated with Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The shrimp were used as an ingredient for sushi sold at retailers in dozens of states, including Illinois. There were no reported illnesses related to the shrimp at the time of the recall.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacteria found in saltwater and raw shellfish. Symptoms typically last up to seven days and may include:

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