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Chicago food poisoning attorneysEven though consumers in the United States expect the food products they purchase to be safe, the systems that are meant to protect against the spread of dangerous pathogens sometimes fail. When food that is tainted by viruses, bacteria, or other toxic substances is made available for purchase, this can result in food poisoning, which can cause long-lasting injuries to those who are affected. Salmonella is one of the most common sources of foodborne illnesses, and a variety of food products have been found to be contaminated by this bacteria. In 2020, one of the largest salmonella outbreaks was caused by peaches sold at grocery stores in multiple different states.

Recall of Prima Wawona Peaches

A multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis occurred between June and August of 2020. According to the CDC, 101 people in 17 states were infected, and while no deaths occurred, 28 people were hospitalized. These infections were traced to peaches packed and distributed by Prima Wawona and the Wawona Packing Company. This led the company to recall both bagged and loose peaches that had been distributed to grocery stores in multiple states. 

The recall included peaches sold nationwide at the following stores:

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Chicago food poisoning attorneyThis year has been a challenging time for businesses everywhere, especially those deemed essential workers. Government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), fall within this category and have continued to work despite the threat of the COVID-19 virus. As the pandemic reaches its tenth month in the U.S., many businesses have become accustomed to working during these unprecedented times. FSIS recently released its annual accomplishments in modernizing the agency and fulfilling its mission to prevent foodborne illness throughout the United States.

Working During the Pandemic

FSIS employs approximately 9,000 employees who are spread across laboratories, federally regulated establishments, import establishments, or in-commerce facilities. According to the agency’s fiscal year report, no FSIS regulated establishments closed as a result of absent inspection personnel. The agency called on other USDA employees when necessary to supplement any missing workers due to the pandemic. This allowed FSIS to inspect over 166 million head of livestock, 9.68 billion poultry carcasses, 2.5 billion pounds of egg products, and more.

Improving and Modernizing 

Each year, FSIS strives to modernize its inspection systems and operations to protect public health. In 2019, the agency published the final rule on the Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection, as this is a common source of foodborne illnesses. The new rule includes two parts: mandatory microbial testing requirements at all swine facilities and the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS). The NSIS requires additional offline inspections that directly impact public health while continuing 100 percent carcass-by-carcass inspection. Since being passed in 2019, seven plants have successfully converted to this new system in the past year. 

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Chicago food poisoning lawyersThis past year, illness has taken on a new meaning altogether. The wide range of COVID-19 symptoms can leave you thinking that any sense of sickness can be attributed to the virus. With symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, it may be difficult to decipher if your symptoms are a result of COVID-19, the “stomach flu,” or a case of food poisoning. For many, COVID-19 poses a serious risk to themselves or their elderly loved ones, which is why it is critical to know why you are experiencing your symptoms and if your condition is contagious. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is always advisable to seek out proper testing to rule out COVID-19, but there is no definitive test for the stomach flu or food poisoning. Luckily, there are a few differences that can help you determine what the real driver of your symptoms is.

Symptom Differences

While the stomach flu and food poisoning share the symptoms of stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, there is one key difference between the two: the length of the symptoms. The stomach flu is a quick illness and its symptoms only last one to two days, but food poisoning symptoms can last for several days. Those who have the stomach flu are contagious for one to five days, with symptoms appearing for 24 to 48 hours. Food poisoning, though, has symptoms that linger for days on end. The stomach flu is also much more common in the fall and winter months, whereas food poisoning can happen any time of the year.

The Causes

Another way that you can attempt to narrow down what you have is by looking back at your interactions over the past few days. The stomach flu is transmitted from person to person, so if you have a friend or family member who is also feeling under the weather, they may have passed it on to you. If, however, you went out to eat with this person and you both got sick simultaneously, food poisoning may be the culprit. Food poisoning is caused by bacteria in food, typically undercooked meat or improperly washed vegetables. Thus, the meal that you had out last night may have been contaminated and led to your upset stomach. 

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Illinois food poisoning lawyersThis fall, food poisoning outbreaks have surged throughout the country, including recent E. coli outbreaks. The FDA and CDC have been busy investigating illnesses in this fall’s third multistate outbreak of E. coli. According to the CDC, infections have been reported in six states, with at least 12 people infected and five hospitalized and one-third of all reported cases coming from Illinois. The identified source, however, was distributed to 19 states and Puerto Rico, leaving a large number of people at risk of contracting food poisoning. At Newland & Newland, LLP, we fight for those who have fallen ill to foodborne illnesses as a result of food vendors’ negligence, including products sold in grocery stores across the nation.

The Source of the Outbreak

The recently released CDC notice connects the E. coli outbreak to a brand of romaine lettuce that is sold in grocery stores nationwide, including Walmart. The lettuce is sold under the name Tanimura & Antle, and the recalled lettuce was labeled with a “packed on” date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020. The lettuce was lab tested by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the outbreak strain was identified in a sample of the company’s single-head romaine lettuce. Illinois holds the highest number of cases, with four recorded. Though the E. coli strain was found in the sampled lettuce, the CDC stated that they were unable to definitively determine whether the Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce did indeed cause the illnesses. In order to protect consumers, those who have purchased the lettuce have been advised to avoid consuming the product.

Where Does the Bacteria Come From?

E. coli is typically transmitted through the consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked meats, raw milk, and particular fruits and vegetables. The bacteria is due to fecal contamination. For fruits and vegetables, such as the lettuce listed above, the contamination is often due to contact with feces from domestic animals or wild animals during the plants’ cultivation. For both meat and produce, contaminated water can also be the culprit. Fecally contaminated water that is used during the food preparation process can lead to E. coli outbreaks upon consumption.

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Illinois food poisoning lawyersAs deer hunting season begins in the state of Illinois, a recent study reveals concerning information about the consumption of venison after hunting these animals. For some, hunting is about the game, without the expectation of eating the animal afterwards. For others, the meal that comes from the recreational activity is the primary driver behind participating in deer hunting. With over 75,400 deer harvested in the 2019-2020 season, many Illinoisans are participating in the activity, potentially risking contracting a form of food poisoning in the process.

Lead Poisoning Found in Deer Meat

A recently published study, authored by two Illinois Wesleyan University faculty members and a Bloomington veterinarian, revealed significant traces of lead contamination in shotgun-harvested deer. The researchers measured lead concentrations in ground venison packets from deer that were harvested in Illinois in 2013 and 2014. It was found that nearly 50 percent of the packets tested positive for lead contamination, with some even containing lead fragments. The researchers attribute the contamination to lead shotgun ammunition, a common form of ammunition that is used while hunting deer. 

According to the study, there is no recognized safe level of lead intake, meaning any consumption of the substance can be toxic. In order to avoid consuming toxic substances, hunters should seek out non-lead ammunition before hunting. However, even if you take the viable measures to avoid using lead ammunition, meat processing plants could lead you astray. The authors from the study noted that 60 percent of the meat processing plants in Illinois admitted to mixing meat from different animals into their ground venison products, making it impossible to be sure that what you are consuming was not harvested with lead ammunition.

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