Food-Borne Illness

Foodborne Illness

Have you and someone you know ever gotten sick after eating at a restaurant, at a group outing, or from a grocery store? If so, you could be a part of a foodborne outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention foodborne outbreak occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink. When food manufacturers, distributors or preparers are negligent, it can lead to contaminated food items and serious consumer illnesses. Complications from a foodborne outbreak could lead to various medical complications, pain and suffering, thousands of dollars in medical bills, and loss of wages due to illness. However, these outbreaks are almost always preventable with due diligence in the food industry. If you or a loved one is struck by a foodborne illness in Georgia, contact Dermer Appel Ruder, LLC for help navigating your case.

What Causes Foodborne Outbreaks?

Foodborne illnesses are caused by swallowing food contaminated with a variety of germs or toxic substances. The CDC estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness. Thousands are hospitalized and there are roughly 3,000 deaths per year associated with complications from foodborne illnesses.  The most commonly ingested germs and harmful substances include, but are not limited to:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Chemical toxins such as alcohol or carbon monoxide
  • Natural toxins such as those found in mushrooms and molds

The CDC has investigated outbreaks associated with Enoki Mushrooms and Clover Sprouts in 2020 and 16 foodborne outbreaks – from lettuce to eggs to frozen ground tuna – in 2019.

Common Foodborne Germs

The CDC has identified the five leading germs known to cause foodborne illnesses in the U.S. These include:

  1. Norovirus
  2. Salmonella
  3. Clostridium perfringens
  4. Campylobacter
  5. Staphylococcus aureus (Staph)

Identifying the Symptoms of Foodborne Illnesses

Common symptoms of illness from consuming contaminated food include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea

The severity and duration of symptoms may vary depending on the pathogen causing the illness.  Severe symptoms could lead to a potentially dangerous complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS. HUS occurs when blood vessels in your kidneys are inflamed or damaged, and may result in the formation of life-threatening clots in your kidneys.

Symptoms of HUS include:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased frequency of urination
  • Small unexplained bruises or bleeding
  • An unhealthy pale appearance

Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, however there are known instances of permanent kidney damage and even death. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek emergency medical care immediately.

What To Do if You’re Experiencing Symptoms?

Tracing your symptoms to a particular food product or particular restaurant requires careful analysis. Therefore, it is imperative to hold on to the food item(s) in question if  possible. The time it will take for a particular ingested bacteria to cause symptoms varies from a few hours to days.  If you develop symptoms a couple of days after consuming a specific food item, proving that food items cause you to become sick may prove difficult.

The table below outlines the diseases, incubation periods, symptoms, illness durations and types of illnesses for some of the  most common foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne Illness Table

Presenting a Foodborne Illness Case in Georgia

As the victim of a foodborne illness or outbreak, you may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against one or more defendants on the grounds of negligence, strict product liability, or breach of warranty. Negligence could refer to someone’s inadequate storage or preparation of the food item, leading to your illness. Strict product liability laws state that product manufacturers are liable for defective or dangerous items, even if they were not negligent. A breach of warranty is a violation of the implied or express guarantees given by food suppliers, such as a promise of fully cooked meats. If you believe you have a personal injury lawsuit for food poisoning, you have two years to report your claim in most cases.

At Dermer Appel Ruder, LLC., our attorneys have experience handling foodborne illnesses and outbreak lawsuits. Our attorneys have litigated outbreaks that have occurred at several restaurants in and around metro Atlanta. We can help you meet your statute of limitations deadline and bring a strong claim against a defendant that demands fair and full compensation for your losses. Call us today for your free initial consultation.

Our team serves Atlanta and all surrounding areas including but not limited to Alpharetta, Duluth, Dunwoody, Gwinnett County, Johns Creek, Peachtree Corners & Roswell.

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