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Chicago E. coli injury attorneyUnfortunately, food poisoning is all too common in the United States. Foods can become contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or other toxins at different points in the supply chain, including when they are grown or produced, shipped, or served or sold to customers. E. coli is one of the most common pathogens that leads to food poisoning injuries, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s health. Those who have contracted E. coli will want to understand the potential sources of the infection and determine whether they can pursue compensation from the person or company that was responsible.

Sources of E. Coli Infections

Escherichia coli, which is commonly abbreviated as E. coli, is a bacteria that is found in the intestines of many humans and animals. E. coli infections can occur through:

  • Ground meat - When cows, pigs, or other animals are slaughtered, E. coli bacteria in their intestines may become mixed in with the meat. Packages of ground beef, pork, or other meats will often contain meat from multiple animals, making them more likely to be contaminated. Meat should be fully cooked to kill any bacteria that are present. Infections can occur if meat is undercooked or if bacteria from meat spreads to other food products during storage or preparation.

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Illinois personal injury attorney food poisoning

Laws and regulations in the United States exist to ensure that the food people eat is safe. Unfortunately, businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, or food product manufacturers do not always follow these regulations, and this can result in serious cases of food poisoning. Recently, approximately 40 people claimed to have food poisoning after eating at an Arby's restaurant in Springfield, Illinois. Starting on February 15, 2021, the Sangamon County health department began receiving reports that people who had eaten at the restaurant had become ill. Over the following days, 40 cases were reported, causing the restaurant to shut down. After a deep cleaning, the Arby’s has reopened. An investigation is being performed, but the source of the foodborne illness has not yet been identified.

Potential Causes of Food Poisoning at Restaurants

Workers at restaurants should be trained on the proper methods of handling and preparing food to prevent dishes from being contaminated by viruses, bacteria, or toxins. If employees do not receive the proper training or do not follow the correct procedures, customers may contract food poisoning due to contaminated food. Some ways that foodborne illnesses can be spread by restaurant workers include:

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Illinois E. coli poisoning attorneyThere are a wide variety of foodborne illnesses that affect people in the United States. Typically, food poisoning occurs because harmful bacteria, viruses, or toxins are present in foods that are made available to consumers, including items sold at grocery stores, dishes served at restaurants, and food products sold or provided at other locations. E. coli is one of the most common foodborne pathogens. It is estimated that 265,000 people in the U.S. are infected with this bacteria every year, and these infections result in 3,600 hospitalizations and 30 deaths.

Shiga Toxin-Producing E. Coli

The most dangerous strains of E. coli produce a substance known as a Shiga toxin, which can cause serious harm to the human body. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is often present in the intestines of livestock and other animals, and it may be spread to crops or other plants by these animals. It can also infect food products during the process of packaging, shipping, or preparation.

People who contract an E. coli infection may experience symptoms that involve intestinal distress, including stomach pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Victims may experience a low fever, and in many cases, the illness will run its course within five to seven days. In more serious cases, symptoms can involve severe pain and bloody stool. Children under the age of five, elderly people over the age of 65, and those who have compromised immune systems due to diseases such as HIV or cancer treatments are more likely to experience severe symptoms, and in some cases, their condition may be life-threatening.

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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 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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