It seems to be that time of the year again! Last year, in 2011, we informed readers of various food recalls in the State of Florida. Once again, it was announced that there is an outbreak of salmonella in cantaloupe. There has been an unusually high hospitalization rate of 52%, with 78 reported hospitalizations due to infected cantaloupe. In addition, 2 elderly people have died in Kentucky. Although Florida has not been affected as much as some other states, this outbreak is still in its early stages, and consumers should remain cautious.
Please read last year’s blog below for more information on food recalls and the effects of salmonella and listeria.
Salmonella and Listeria
According to WebMD, every year in the United States, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonella food poisoning are reported. It is also postulated that many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, and because of this, the actual number of salmonella food poisoning cases may be 30 or more times greater. Young children, older adults, and people with impaired immune systems should be especially wary of salmonella food poisoning, as they are susceptible to getting the most severe infections. Symptoms from salmonella poisoning develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.
Similarly, cantaloupe was recalled due to listeriosis, which is a rarer form of food poisoning. Less common than salmonella, in the United States, approximately 2,500 people become seriously ill from listeriosis per year. Listeriosis affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems. Listeriosis can be most frightening for pregnant women, as it can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers ate contaminated food during pregnancy. Because listeriosis is less known than salmonella, it is important to know the source of it. Listeriosis is found in soil and water, which means that it can be found in vegetables, animal products (meat and dairy), processed foods (soft cheeses and cold cuts), and unpasteurized milk or foods. If you fall under any of the categories of people most susceptible to listeriosis, then it would be wise to avoid these types of foods. Of course you don’t want to cut out all vegetables, so an alternative would be to pay close attention to all food recall warnings. Both salmonella and listeriosis result in flu-like symptoms. If you suspect that you have a severe case of food poisoning, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Food Poisoning and the Law
It is often difficult to prove liability in cases of food poisoning because of a number of potentially extenuating circumstances. It is important to try and determine the exact source of the food poisoning, the type of food poisoning, and the extent of the food poisoning. Because of the delay in symptoms, especially with salmonella, it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused the illness. It is important to understand that becoming sick immediately after eating something does not point to salmonella or listeria poisoning. It is more likely that you became ill over something that you ate 12 to 72 hours before. It is necessary to have damages in order to sue for food poisoning. This means that you underwent medical treatment, lost wages from missed work due to your illness, and additionally, if the defendant was particularly careless, you may also be able to obtain punitive damages. It should be noted that a stomach bug that lasts for an hour or so will not be enough to justify bringing a lawsuit for damages. Documentation outside of your own medical records are often difficult to produce, however, an experienced South Florida personal injury lawyer can help you prove the source of the food poisoning, or determine the most likely source through the use of expert witnesses.
Food Poisoning in the News
Lately, there have been a number of food recalls in Florida. More specifically, cantaloupe, spinach, bagged salad and frozen egg product top the charts. On October 27, 2011, American Egg Products of Blackshear, which distributes and sells 5 pound cartons of frozen egg product to Georgia and Florida food manufacturers, recalled cases marked “Lot # 272-1.” This marking can be found printed across the side of each case and embossed on the end of each individual 5 pound egg carton. As with the bagged salad recall earlier this month, salmonella was detected through routine sampling.