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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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Five Ways to Prevent Food Poisoning for the HolidaysYou will likely enjoy multiple large meals with family and friends this holiday season – even before the traditional Christmas Day feast. Unfortunately, there is always the chance that something you eat will cause you to become sick from food poisoning. No one wants to spend the holidays dealing with stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or other food poisoning symptoms. As the host of a meal or preparer of a dish, you could be liable if others get food poisoning from the food that you served. Here are five tips for avoiding food poisoning at holiday meals:

  1. Check for Food Recalls: Food producers and sellers are sometimes the ones who are liable for their products containing bacteria or other contaminants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service may issue a recall on a product if food poisoning cases are believed to be connected to the product or there is a reason to believe that the product has been contaminated. Do a simple internet search on food product recalls in case you purchased a product that has been recalled.
  2. Thawing Your Turkey: It can take a while to thaw a frozen turkey, and thawing it in the wrong way will give time for bacteria to grow inside it. The safe ways to thaw a turkey are in a microwave, a refrigerator, or a sink filled with cold water that you change every half an hour.
  3. Use Food Thermometers: Meat, seafood, and eggs need to be fully cooked in order to kill harmful germs. The FDA has minimum temperatures that these foods should reach for them to be safe to eat. Do not guess that your food has been cooked long enough. Use a meat thermometer to check its temperature.
  4. Keep Food Heated or Refrigerated: Bacteria can start growing in food if you let it sit out for a couple of hours at room temperature. If you have finished cooking food that you plan to serve later, you should either immediately refrigerate it at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or keep it hot at a temperature above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Clean While You Cook: The bacteria from preparing raw meat can contaminate other foods if you are not careful to sterilize your hands and any surface that may have come in contact with the meat. Use soap and warm water before and after preparing each dish.

Contact a Chicago Food Poisoning Lawyer

If you have become seriously ill from food poisoning, you may need monetary compensation for your medical expenses and related costs. You may not like the idea of filing a lawsuit against a family member or close friend, but you may be able to deal with an insurance company instead if you ate the contaminated food at someone’s home and the host has home owner’s insurance. It is also possible that a food company was responsible for your poisoning. An Illinois food poisoning attorney at Newland & Newland, LLP, can advise you on your options for obtaining compensation. To schedule a consultation, call 847-840-8950.

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How Hepatitis A Outbreaks Occur at RestaurantsIf you follow the news, you will occasionally see reports about a hepatitis A outbreak at a restaurant. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious virus that humans can spread when not using proper hygiene during food preparation. Large outbreaks are usually traced to restaurants because one infected person preparing food can transmit the virus to numerous customers. Hepatitis A is rarely life-threatening unless you are already in poor health. However, you may still deserve compensation from a restaurant that exposed you to hepatitis A to pay for your medical expenses and other losses.

What Is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is one form of the hepatitis virus, causing liver inflammation that can last for weeks or months. It is a fecal-oral disease, meaning that people are infected when the virus enters their mouth and can spread the virus through their feces. Symptoms can take two to seven weeks to appear and may include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, joint pain, and jaundice. People are at the greatest risk of contracting hepatitis A if they:

  • Use drugs;
  • Have unprotected sex;
  • Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common; or
  • Live in a generally unsanitary environment.

Though you may not directly put yourself at risk of infection, you have no control over whether a person preparing your food is infected. A carrier can spread the virus while not showing any symptoms.

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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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