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Pumpkin Food Poisoning Is Rare But SeriousAmericans go wild for pumpkin-flavored products every fall, adding the gourd to a variety of foods. Can you get food poisoning from pumpkins? It is unlikely that adding pumpkin spice to your food will cause food poisoning, but pumpkin products can cause some nasty illnesses in rare situations. Understanding how pumpkins can become poisonous to humans may protect you from a food poisoning incident or help you identify pumpkins as the source of your illness.

Toxic Squash Syndrome

Pumpkins are classified as cucurbits, a family of flowering gourd plants that also include cucumbers, melons, and squash. Cucurbit poisoning, also known as toxic squash syndrome, occurs when a person eats a cucurbit that contains an elevated level of cucurbitacin E. Symptoms of toxic squash poisoning can include:

  • Nausea;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Vomiting;
  • Dizziness; and
  • Hair loss, in rare instances.

Cucurbits naturally develop cucurbitacin in order to protect themselves against insects. Wild squash and cucumbers contain higher levels of cucurbitacin than those grown for consumption because they must survive in harsher environments. However, domestically grown cucurbits can develop unsafe levels of cucurbitacin if they are cross-pollinated with wild plants or grown with inadequate water or fertilization. You can identify a poisonous cucurbit by its extremely bitter taste. It is important to spit it out because even a few bites can poison you.


Which Foods Are Most Likely to Cause Food Poisoning?Tracing the source of your food poisoning can be more difficult than you might expect. Food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria does not always look or taste strange. Symptoms can manifest in a short as an hour or as long as weeks. A wide variety of foods can be responsible for food poisoning. When trying to solve the mystery of a food poisoning case, your clues are the type of food poisoning you have and the foods you have eaten recently. A doctor will identify the food poisoning and its possible source, but you must create a retroactive food journal to identify the source. To help, here are seven foods most often associated with food poisoning cases:

  1. Poultry: Raw poultry – such as chicken, turkey, and duck – are near the top of most lists of products that can cause food poisoning. Poultry has a high rate of bacterial contamination that can make you sick if it is undercooked.
  2. Raw Produce: Fruits, vegetables, and spouts can carry bacteria on their leaves and skins, often coming from the soil and water where they are grown. Freezing fresh produce may not kill the bacteria. It is important to wash raw produce before eating it.
  3. Seafood: Fish and shellfish can become contaminated if they consume harmful bacteria while alive or are not properly refrigerated after being caught. In some cases, cooking the seafood may not be enough to eliminate the toxins.
  4. Deli Meats: Deli meats can contain bacteria that grew during processing or after improper refrigeration. Some deli meats are commonly eaten without being cooked again, such as sliced sandwich meats. Others, such as hot dogs and bacon, should be fully cooked to reduce the chance of food poisoning.
  5. Eggs: Eggs have a high risk of salmonella poisoning if they are eaten raw or undercooked. It is not advised to eat dishes that are meant to have raw eggs.
  6. Unpasteurized Dairy: Food poisoning from milk was once common before the pasteurization process became standard. Unpasteurized dairy products have not been heated to kill the bacteria that can grow in raw milk.
  7. Rice: Rice can have bacterial spores that continue to live inside it while uncooked. However, the cooking process does not kill the spores, which may grow if the rice is left in a warm, moist environment. Cooked rice should be served immediately and refrigerated afterward.

Contact an Illinois Food Poisoning Attorney

Identifying the source of your food poisoning will help you determine whether you should file a food poisoning lawsuit. A Chicago food poisoning lawyer at Newland & Newland, LLP, can help you collect compensation from the party that was negligent in handling or preparing your food. Schedule a consultation by calling 312-981-0409.



Histamines in Unrefrigerated Fish Cause Scombroid PoisoningAlfa International Seafood recently recalled its yellowfin tuna steaks that were available in Kroger stores in 16 states, including Illinois. Five cases of scombroid fish poisoning were connected to the steaks, which were sold from Aug. 20 to Sept. 7. Scombroid poisoning is a form of food poisoning that people can contract from eating fish that was not properly refrigerated. A restaurant or food company that sells you tainted fish may be liable for medical expenses or lost income related to your illness.

What Is Scombroid Poisoning?

People receive scombroid poisoning primarily from eating fish that have elevated levels of histamines. Scombroid poisoning has many of the familiar symptoms of food poisoning, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. However, the histamines may cause symptoms that are similar to an allergic reaction, such as:

  • Fever;
  • Hives;
  • Itching; and
  • A burning sensation in the mouth.

Most cases of scombroid poisoning subside on their own after a few hours. For severe cases, physicians may prescribe anti-histamines or recommend induced vomiting to remove the poison from the digestive system. The most severe reactions to scombroid poisoning are a racing heart, drop in blood pressure and trouble breathing.


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 312-981-0409.


Cyclospora Outbreaks Most Common During Warm Weather MonthsThe Centers for Disease Control reports that there were 580 confirmed cases of cyclosporiasis in the U.S. between May 1 and July 23, 2019. The cases occurred in 30 states and the District of Columbia and have been traced to food served in restaurants and prepared at home. Fresh basil imported from Mexico seems to be the largest source of the outbreak, being connected to 132 infections. In total, at least 38 people have been hospitalized, with no reported deaths. The U.S. commonly experiences an increase in cyclospora outbreaks during the summer months, as opposed to the rest of the year.


Cyclospora is a parasite spread through feces that contaminates food or water. The parasite is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas. Travelers to these areas are at greater risk of infection if they consume raw local foods or tap water. Domestic outbreaks in the U.S. can come from fresh produce imported from these tropical areas, including but not limited to:

  • Lettuce;
  • Basil;
  • Raspberries; and
  • Snow peas.

Domestic consumers can best protect themselves from infection by thoroughly washing produce, though this is not guaranteed to remove the parasite.

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