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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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illinois food poisoning lawyerMany different types of foodborne illnesses can affect people who eat foods contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or other toxins. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and outbreaks of this disease occur more frequently than many people realize. The dangers of this disease were demonstrated recently in two cases where products contaminated with salmonella caused people in multiple states to suffer illnesses and hospitalizations.

Foods Contaminated With Salmonella

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated two separate salmonella outbreaks in recent months. The first was related to ground turkey produced and sold by Plainville Brands, LLC, a company located in Pennsylvania. Products with the brand names of Nature’s Promise, Wegman, and Plainville Farms were found to be contaminated. The specific products that were affected were produced in December of 2020 and distributed with expiration dates between January 1 and January 10, 2021. Consumers who purchased products during those dates may have frozen them for later use. Freezing does not kill salmonella, so consumers are still at risk of infection when thawing and eating or handling these products.

The other salmonella outbreak was related to dairy products manufactured by Jule’s Foods, a company in California. Products that were recalled due to contamination include cashew brie cheese, spinach artichoke dip, and vegan ranch dressing. Investigators found salmonella in these products on April 22, 2021, and products with all expiration dates have been recalled.

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Chicago E. coli injury attorneyUnfortunately, food poisoning is all too common in the United States. Foods can become contaminated by bacteria, viruses, or other toxins at different points in the supply chain, including when they are grown or produced, shipped, or served or sold to customers. E. coli is one of the most common pathogens that leads to food poisoning injuries, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s health. Those who have contracted E. coli will want to understand the potential sources of the infection and determine whether they can pursue compensation from the person or company that was responsible.

Sources of E. Coli Infections

Escherichia coli, which is commonly abbreviated as E. coli, is a bacteria that is found in the intestines of many humans and animals. E. coli infections can occur through:

  • Ground meat - When cows, pigs, or other animals are slaughtered, E. coli bacteria in their intestines may become mixed in with the meat. Packages of ground beef, pork, or other meats will often contain meat from multiple animals, making them more likely to be contaminated. Meat should be fully cooked to kill any bacteria that are present. Infections can occur if meat is undercooked or if bacteria from meat spreads to other food products during storage or preparation.

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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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