We have all been preoccupied with the Coronavirus outbreak for most of this year, but make no mistake; other health issues have not suddenly ceased because of COVID-19. In this article, our second in a series dealing with the problem with food poisoning cases, we should start with a will discuss Salmonella, which is one of the most common food poisoning culprits around. We should start with a list of some of the largest Salmonella outbreaks that have been tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this year alone:
- From June 2020 through August 2020, the CDC and the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tracked and investigated an outbreak of salmonellosis traced to red onions supplied by Thomson International, Inc, a food distributor located in Oregon. Thomson has issued a widespread recall, and many grocery stores have also recalled prepared products that may have contained the tainted onions. As of early September, the red onion outbreak had affected 1,012 people in 46 states, leaving 136 hospitalized.
- In July 2020, the CDC reported an outbreak of Salmonella Newport. That outbreak led to 212 reported cases in 23 states and resulted in 31 hospitalizations. Those numbers include a spike of 87 cases reported between July 21, 2020, and July 24, 2020.
- The two agencies have also been investigating 15 Salmonella outbreaks throughout 2020 that have been traced to the use and processing of backyard poultry, including chicks and ducks that were often given to children as pets. These outbreaks have now spread to 48 states. As of July 28, 2020, 938 cases of Salmonella infection have been reported, with more than 30% of them being hospitalized. In all, 28% of those affected are children under the age of 5. All of these cases could have been prevented with frequent hand washing and not kissing or cuddling chicks or ducklings.
These are not isolated incidents, of course. According to the CDC, Salmonellosis, the scientific name for Salmonella food poisoning, ranks as the second-most common intestinal infection in the United States every year. In all, about 1.5 million people per year contract illness from Salmonella contamination annually, with about 95% of them related to food. Every year, about 20,000 victims are hospitalized and 400 die from the infection every year.
In most cases, a Salmonella infection occurs when someone eats food that has been contaminated with the bacteria. This usually occurs when the food comes in the feces of animals or humans carrying the bacteria. Salmonella outbreaks are most closely associated with the consumption of dairy products made with raw milk, or with raw or undercooked meat, poultry, and/or eggs. Unfortunately, in recent years, Salmonella contamination has increasingly been associated with other foods, like leafy greens, due to issues related to food handling and cross-contamination, they are increasingly being associated with other foods, including fruits and vegetables.
The most common form of Salmonella infection is known as Non-typhoidal Salmonella. If contracted, the patient will usually experience abut three days to a week of relatively minor gastronomical distress and perhaps a headache. Usually, a week in, the symptoms will simply disappear. However, many Salmonella infections can bring about far more serious symptoms, up to and including diarrhea, vomiting, body aches. In some cases, this can lead to severe dehydration.
In a few cases, especially those patients who are small children, the elderly, or those with compromised immune symptoms, symptoms can be more severe, including chronic reactive arthritis, which can lead to joint swelling. In the most severe cases, Salmonella contamination can lead to swelling in the eyes, or infections in urinary or reproductive organs. In some extreme cases, it’s possible to contract typhoidal Salmonella, which can lead to typhoid fever.
While those victims of salmonella contamination who are hit with minor symptoms just have to wait for the bellyache to pass, it is not uncommon for those with more serious symptoms to wind up in the hospital or to undergo outpatient medical treatment. In the most extreme cases, however, some patients will need long-term medical care.
Regardless of severity, someone who suffers a Salmonella infection due to exposure to contaminated food has the right to file a claim against any party who is shown to be responsible, including those who were negligent with regard to food handling. That can be a food production or processing company, a restaurant, a wholesaler, or a grocery store, depending on the circumstances. In many cases, food handling companies have known about a problem with contamination for a long time. In other cases, someone in the company producing the food placed making a profit above customers’ health, and cut back on cleaning and disinfecting.
In every claim related to Salmonella poisoning, there are three factors:
- Negligence means that, at every level, from food production to retail sales, all food handlers at every level have a duty to use reasonable care to ensure the safety of the food.
- Strict liability means that all products sold to consumers are not supposed to cause harm to those consumers.
- Breach of warranty means that sellers imply a warranty that all food they sell is fit and safe to eat.
In order to prove Salmonella cases, it is necessary to rely on microbiologic and statistical evidence. It is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of all aspects of the food handling process, in order to gather evidence of this type. That is why you need a lawyer with the experience and knowledge of food poisoning cases and what information and evidence is needed to win the best possible settlement and get you the compensation you deserve.