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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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Differentiating Between Food Poisoning and a Stomach VirusIf you are experiencing sudden stomach pain, nausea and/or diarrhea, there are generally two possible causes: food poisoning or stomach flu. Both of their symptoms are similar enough that it is difficult for you to tell the difference. However, the difference between food poisoning and stomach flu can determine whether someone may be liable for your medical expenses and suffering. Illinois has strict liability for food poisoning cases while catching a stomach virus usually falls out of the realm of liability. This is one reason why you should see a doctor, who can diagnose the cause of your sickness.

Catching the Stomach Flu vs. Contracting Food Poisoning

The “stomach flu” is not actually a strain of influenza but a gastrointestinal virus that inflames your digestive system. The virus is passed person-to-person by coming in contact with an infected person or surfaces they have contaminated. You can catch a stomach virus if an infected person is preparing your food, but it is more common to catch it from the people you interact with.

By contrast, you contract food poisoning strictly from ingesting food that contains bacteria or parasites. Because you know that unsafe food was the cause of your illness, it is easier to figure out which food was the likely source of the bacteria. Human negligence in storing or preparing food is often to blame for the contamination.

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Airline Meals Are Frequent Source of Food PoisoningAirline food is often the source of jokes because of its reputation for poor quality. Many will remember the classic comedic film “Airplane!,” in which a majority of the passengers of a flight become ill after being served fish for dinner. Food poisoning from airline food is very real and not a laughing matter. It is difficult to track how many people contract food poisoning from food served on airplanes because passengers can disperse across the country or around the world. However, we do know from individual complaints and government inspections that there are numerous cases of food poisoning that originate from airline food.

Startling Findings

Third-party food catering services provide most of the meals that people eat on airplanes. The federal Food and Drug Administration is responsible for inspecting the caterers for health code violations. A recent investigation by NBC News reported that the FDA has documented several violations in the past four years, such as:

  • Listeria contaminations in facilities
  • Expired food being used
  • Food that was not stored at a safe temperature
  • Cross-contamination between raw and cooked meats
  • Fans blowing dust on food
  • Condensation dripping water on food
  • Bird and rodent feces in facilities

The investigation also claims that the FDA inspects airline catering facilities once every three-to-five years, as opposed to local health inspectors visiting most restaurants at least once a year.

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