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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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How Food Poisoning Can Occur at a CookoutLabor Day weekend is the last summer hurrah for many people. That means parties and cookouts for those who want to enjoy the warm weather. Unfortunately, food poisoning may ruin some people’s enjoyment – if not immediately, then in the days and weeks after. The host of a party at a private residence can be liable for your food poisoning, as long as their negligence was the cause of your illness. The host is not the one who is liable if they purchased a product that was later recalled. Here are a few ways that food preparation at a cookout can cause food poisoning:

  1. Undercooked Meat: Raw meat – particularly poultry, pork, and ground beef – has bacteria that is killed when the meat reaches a high enough temperature. Pork and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef to 160 degrees, and poultry to 165 degrees. The person preparing the meat should stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to determine the temperature. The eye test is not a reliable way to tell whether meat is done.
  2. Contaminated Surfaces: It is often necessary to prepare raw meat in the kitchen before taking it out to the grill. Any surface or utensil that comes in contact with the meat should be cleaned with hot, soapy water to prevent contamination. Raw meats should be kept separate from other foods, both in the refrigerator and the kitchen. There is a misconception that raw meats should be washed off before being cooked. Doing this may spread the bacteria and contaminate other surfaces.
  3. Improper Refrigeration: Perishable foods need to be refrigerated before and, in some cases, after they are prepared or served. Bacteria can grow in the food when left in temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for several hours. When you arrive at a party, it is possible that the perishable foods have already been sitting out and unrefrigerated for a while. Mayonnaise-based salads left outside for hours are common culprits for this type of food poisoning. Some foods can remain safe if they are continually heated.

Contact an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

If the food you ate at someone’s residence gave you food poisoning, there are two questions you should answer before filing a lawsuit:

  • Whose negligence was responsible for the food poisoning?; and
  • If it was the host, do you want to file a lawsuit against them?

The host may not personally pay your damages if their homeowner's insurance covers food poisoning, but taking a friend to court could damage your relationship. A Chicago food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP, can help you decide whether it is worthwhile to file a lawsuit. Schedule a consultation by calling 847-840-8950.

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17 Suffer from Gastrointestinal Disorders After Eating at Elgin Golf Course

Earlier this summer, 17 people became ill after eating at a golf course lunch buffet in Elgin, Illinois known as The Grumpy Goat Tavern. The individuals affected experienced flu-like symptoms including nausea, sweating, body aches, runny nose, dehydration, and fatigue. One of the victims contacted the city health department to conduct an investigation of the restaurant. Once the investigation was complete, the health department declared The Grumpy Goat Tavern to meet sanitation and safety standards. There was no conclusive ruling about whether the food from the buffet actually caused the gastrointestinal disruptions in the individual who became ill because there was no food leftover from the meal in question for the health department to inspect.

Food poisoning can have serious consequences, especially for individuals with weak immune systems. If you experience food poisoning after eating in a restaurant or other public place, you could potentially recover damages for your losses by working with an experienced food poisoning attorney to file and pursue a personal injury claim.

What Does a Health Department Investigation Involve?

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