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arlington heights food poisoning lawyerGoing out to eat should be an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, some restaurant-goers find themselves suffering from debilitating symptoms after the meal. If you or a loved one contracted food positioning after eating at a restaurant, diner, pub, or fast food establishment, you may be curious about your legal options. You may wonder whether you can pursue financial compensation through a lawsuit. While bringing a successful food poisoning lawsuit can be challenging, it is possible under certain circumstances.

What You Need to Prove in a Food Poisoning Case

Food poisoning can be caused by bacterial contamination, viruses, and parasites. Many of these pathogens can cause symptoms like painful cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Sometimes, food poisoning can lead to severe, long-term health consequences, including kidney failure, arthritis, and even brain damage. These symptoms can lead to lost income, medical bills, and other expenses. Through a food poisoning lawsuit, an individual may be able to recover compensation for these and other damages.

To recover compensation through a food poisoning lawsuit, you will need to prove that:

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Chicago foodborne illness injury lawyerThere are many reasons why foods served at restaurants can become contaminated by infectious diseases or other toxic substances. Workers may not follow the correct sanitary procedures, such as fully washing their hands, cleaning surfaces where foods are prepared, and ensuring that food is stored properly. These issues can result in contaminations that may cause food poisoning, and foodborne illnesses can also occur if foods are not fully cooked. The risks of food poisoning were illustrated recently in a case that took place in Bloomington, Illinois.

At Least 16 People Affected by Foodborne Illness

On April 7, 2021, the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) received reports from personnel at Illinois State University that a number of people had symptoms indicating food poisoning. The MCHD did not state how many people were affected or where the infections were believed to have occurred. However, later reports stated that at least 16 people were affected, and 15 of those were members of the university’s lacrosse team. The reports also identified a Jimmy John’s restaurant in Bloomington as the probable source of food poisoning, and this restaurant has closed while the investigation is ongoing.

The MCHD has not yet identified the specific illness that affected the restaurant’s customers. Several of the people who contracted illnesses were hospitalized due to severe vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are consistent with food poisoning that may have been caused by bacteria or viruses such as:

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Chipotle Fined $25 Million for Repeated Food Poisoning OutbreaksRestaurants are the source of numerous food poisoning incidents each year for which they may or may not be responsible. Sometimes, the restaurant will unknowingly use contaminated food and the food supplier is the liable party. Other times, the restaurant may have caused the incident if it was negligent in safely preparing the food or maintaining a clean kitchen. If a single restaurant or chain of restaurants is involved in multiple food poisoning incidents, health officials may investigate the food safety practices of the restaurants. Officials can even recommend that criminal charges be brought against the restaurant for serving contaminated food.

Chipotle Pays Record Fine

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California fined Chipotle Mexican Grill $25 million for two counts of severing adulterated food in its restaurant. Chipotle agreed to pay the fine – which is the largest ever for a food safety case – and claimed that it has already spent millions more to improve its food safety practices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration traced at least five food poisoning outbreaks to the restaurant from 2015 to 2018 that are believed to have sickened more than 1,100 people. The cases included multiple norovirus outbreaks in different restaurants across the country. The allegations against the company included:

  • Improper training of employees in food safety practices
  • Not keeping food at high enough temperatures to prevent the spread of pathogens
  • Employees feeling pressured to continue working despite feeling sick
  • Restaurant managers not reporting incidents of employees vomiting at work to company safety officials until after customers complained about becoming sick

Norovirus is a pathogen that can be easily spread in a restaurant if infected employees are handling the food. Symptoms from norovirus can take 12 to 48 hours to develop and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Most patients improve in one-to-three days.

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Jimmy John’s Receives FDA Warning About Contaminated ProduceThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the sandwich restaurant chain Jimmy John’s, claiming that the franchise has repeatedly purchased adulterated produce. The FDA identified sprouts and cucumbers as the adulterated products and cited five outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella linked to the restaurants since 2012. Though Jimmy John’s removed sprouts from its stores as a precautionary measure, the FDA said the franchise needs to take corrective action to prevent such outbreaks from continuing to occur. E. coli and salmonella infections can be potentially fatal to young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

What Is Adulterated Produce?

Adulterating food normally refers to adding or replacing ingredients in a food product that may cause harm to those who consume it. For instance, a food manufacturer may replace a natural ingredient in its product with an artificial one, which causes people to become sick upon eating it. In the Jimmy John’s case, the E. coli and salmonella are not artificial ingredients but poisonous substances that have contaminated the produce. Though the producer did not intentionally add the contaminants, it still meets the legal definition of adulterated because there is enough of the contaminant to cause harm.

History of Outbreaks

The FDA accused Jimmy John’s of lacking the control mechanisms to prevent it from continuing to purchase contaminated produce. As previously referenced, the FDA cited five recent food poisoning cases:

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Illinois food poisoning injury attorneyHealth is one of the most important things in life, and most of us do whatever we can to stay in good physical condition. The foods we consume play a large role in our physical health, and sometimes, food poisoning can happen if certain foods are not prepared properly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 48 million people in America become sick from various types of food poisoning every year, and 128,000 of these cases result in hospitalization. Foodborne illnesses can be fatal, and anyone who prepares food should take the following steps to avoid the risk of infection:

  • Wash hands and clean cooking surfaces: Germs on an individual’s hands can spread to countertops and utensils, so it is important to wash one’s hands before cooking. Also, fruits and vegetables should be washed to remove any residual dirt or germs.
  • Keep raw food separate: Several types of bacteria can be found in raw meat and vegetables, with E. Coli being the most common. When preparing food, raw meat should be fully cooked before it is incorporated with the rest of the meal.
  • Cook to the correct temperature: All meats have an internal temperature they should be cooked to in order to kill the bacteria within. A meat thermometer should be used to ensure that the meat is cooked to the proper temperature.
  • Keep perishable foods in a refrigerator: Meats and dairy products are examples of perishable foods that should be stored in a refrigerator before and after a meal is prepared. Keeping perishables in a room temperature environment nurtures bacteria growth and increases the risk of food poisoning.

How Can I Protect Myself When Dining Out?

Thanks to the internet, consumers are able to read reviews about a certain restaurant before dining there. Other patrons can post reviews for future diners to make sure the establishment is clean and the food is prepared properly. When at a restaurant, consumers can protect themselves by:

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