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Illinois food poisoning attorneysThere are a wide variety of pathogens that can lead to food poisoning. While most people are aware of the dangers of salmonella or E. coli, they may not know about listeria. Food poisoning cases involving this bacteria are less common, but they are often more serious, and an infection can result in severe illness or death. Recently, a significant number of listeria infections were linked to several different cheese products sold by the company El Abuelito, Inc.

Contaminated Cheese Products

Beginning in October of 2020 and continuing through March of 2021, multiple cases of listeria infections were reported across four states by people who had eaten Hispanic-style cheese products. As a result, El Abuelito, Inc. has recalled a number of products, including queso fresco cheeses with sell-by dates through March 28, 2021, quesillo and Oaxaca cheeses with sell-by dates through April 16, 2021, and requeson (ricotta) cheeses with sell-by dates through March 14, 2021. The recalled brands included:

  • El Abuelito
  • El Viejito
  • El Sabrosito
  • El Paisano
  • Rio Lindo
  • Rio Grande
  • La Cima
  • San Carlos
  • Quesos Finos
  • Ideal

In some cases, these products may have been repackaged at stores and sold without brand labels or under different brand names. Customers who purchased cheeses that may have been subject to a recall have been advised to throw them away or return them to the store.

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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 food poisoning attorneysThere are multiple ways that people can suffer injuries after consuming foods or food products. In many cases, injuries occur because of foodborne illnesses that cause food poisoning. However, people can also suffer serious harm if they have an allergic reaction to certain foods. It may be possible to hold a restaurant, grocery store, or manufacturer of food products liable for these types of injuries if it can be demonstrated that they acted negligently or did not take the proper measures to protect people’s safety. For example, a person may suffer an allergic reaction if they were not informed that a dish or product contained ingredients that could cause them harm, or cross-contamination may occur at a restaurant or grocery store, causing a person to be exposed to a harmful allergen.

Common Food Allergies and Allergic Reactions

While there are many different types of foods that can cause allergic reactions, some food allergies that commonly affect people in the United States include:

  • Milk, which is included in dairy products such as cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts and tree nuts, including cashews, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts
  • Fish and shellfish, including shrimp, lobster, crayfish, and scallops
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Food allergies can range from mild to severe, and their effects can vary depending on the amount of a food a person consumes and the way their body reacts to it. Some allergies may cause abdominal pain and cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, while others may cause rashes, hives, and itching on different parts of the body, or a person may become dizzy or lightheaded. In more serious cases, an allergic reaction may cause swelling in the tongue, mouth, or throat, which can affect a person’s ability to breathe, or a person may experience low blood pressure or shortness of breath.

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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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Illinois food poisoning attorneysPeople in the United States are often affected by foodborne illnesses. Even though companies that grow, pack, manufacture, distribute, and sell food products are required to meet certain standards to ensure that these products are safe to eat, some foods still become contaminated, leading to serious cases of food poisoning. Of the many different sources of foodborne illness, E. coli is one of the most common, and over the past several years, there have been dozens of outbreaks that have been linked to lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens. 

Most recently, an E. coli outbreak resulted in 40 infections and 20 hospitalizations across 19 states between August and October of 2020. The majority of the patients interviewed during an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported eating leafy greens such as spinach or romaine lettuce before becoming infected. However, the CDC was unable to identify a specific source of this outbreak, since the harvesting, processing, and packaging of different types of leafy greens makes it difficult to determine where the original contamination occurred.

Contamination of Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are susceptible to E. coli contamination due to the way they are grown, harvested, and processed. In many cases, animals are raised near where these plants are grown, which may lead to the spread of bacteria to these products. E. coli contamination may also be spread through irrigation or while leafy greens are being harvested and handled. Contaminated products may be included in salad mixes, or cross-contamination may occur in a processing facility, grocery store, or restaurant.

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