Food poisoning occurs when a person eats food that has been contaminated with bacteria that can cause illness. There are many pathogens that can cause food poisoning, and there are many ways that these bacteria can be ingested. In the most serious cases, food poisoning can cause lifelong disability or death, particularly if the victim is very young, elderly, pregnant, or already sick.
Do I Have a Food Poisoning Lawsuit? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was sickened in an outbreak of food poisoning linked to a recalled product, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit in Texas.
What Causes Food Poisoning?
Food Recalls & Illness Outbreaks
Food poisoning is a problem with most types of food, but certain types have a higher risk than others. For example, doctors warn pregnant women against eating raw bean sprouts, sushi, and soft cheese due to the increased risk of food poisoning. The following is a partial list of food recalls and outbreaks in recent years:
- Ahi poke
- Bean sprouts
- Blue Bell Ice Cream
- Caramel apples
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Death Wish Nitro Canned Coffee
- Ground beef
- Peanut butter
- Pet food
- SoyNut butter
- And more
Food Poisoning Information
Food poisoning occurs when a person eats food that has been contaminated by a bacteria, virus, or toxin that causes illness. The most common types of bacteria that cause food poisoning are: E. coli, salmonella, listeria, shigella, campylobacter, and botulism. Many of these bacteria grow in the intestines of humans or animals, and foods become infected with these deadly pathogens when fecal mater contaminates food, which is then eaten by another person.
Gastrointestinal illness is very common when a person is suffering from food poisoning. The type of symptoms and the severity of the illness depend on the bacteria that caused the food poisoning. The most common symptoms begin as a general feeling of malaise, followed by abdominal cramps and an urgent need to use the bathroom. Once diarrhea begins, nausea and fever usually intensify. Vomiting coupled with diarrhea can cause severe dehydration. In the most severe cases, the symptoms of food poisoning can cause hospitalization and death.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common food poisoning infections in the United States. Every year, there are approximately 40,000 confirmed cases of salmonella food poisoning. However, this number may vastly under-estimate the actual number of salmonella poisonings every year, which may sicken upwards of 1.4 million people every year. Approximately 220 per 1000 cases result in hospitalization, and 8 out of 1000 cases result in death. Approximately 600 people die from salmonella food poisoning every year.
The salmonella bacteria grows in the intestines of many animals and humans. When fecal matter comes in contact with food, and then people ingest this contaminated food, they can become sick with salmonellosis. The most common foods infected with salmonella include raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, fish, meat, raw milk products, and contaminated water. Sometimes, raw fruits or vegetables that have been sliced by contaminated knives have caused salmonella outbreaks.
The CDC estimates that 2,000 Americans are hospitalized and 60 die from E. coli infection every year. E. coli is an abbreviation for Escherichia coli, which is a large group of bacteria that live in the intestinal tract of humans and many animals. Most kinds of E. coli do not cause disease, and are actually beneficial. In newborns, for example, E. coli colonizes their intestinal tract within 2 days. Some types of E. coli, however, can contaminate foods or beverages and cause severe food poisoning.
The most common culprit is E. coli O157:H7, which produces Shiga toxin. Other types of E. coli that produce Shiga toxin can cause hemorrhagic colitis or hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). When a person has HUS, the infection destroys red blood cells, causing low blood platelet count, and can cause acute kidney failure.
E. coli is a particularly dangerous bacteria, because it can survive for weeks on surfaces such as kitchen counters, utensils, and more. It can also survive in food compost for up to a year. The most common way for food to become contaminated by E. coli is when cattle manure comes in contact with the food, which is then eaten.
Foods that have caused E. coli infection outbreaks include, but are not limited to: Ground beef, venison, sausage, unpasteurized milk/cheese products, apple juice, green vegetables, cookie dough, and more.
Botulism is a relatively rare but severe foodborne illness that can be fatal. Every year, there are about 145 cases of botulism, of which 15% are foodborne. Most cases are caused by home-canned foods, but they have also been tied to commercially canned products and restaurants. Botulism is caused by Clostridium botulinum, which is a group of bacteria that is found in soil. The C. botulinum bacteria produces the most lethal neurotoxin known to mankind. It only takes one bite of food infected with C. botulinum to come down with botulism.
When a person has botulism, the first symptoms seem like typical food poisoning (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, etc.). However, botulism poisoning quickly progresses to neurological symptoms. These may include weakness, dizziness, slurred speech, double vision, and tingling in the skin. It can progress to paralysis, respiratory weakness, and respiratory failure that causes death. Fortunately, if botulism is diagnosed early, a physician can administer an antitoxin and greatly improve survival rate.
Shigella is a type of bacteria that causes severe diarrhea when it is consumed by humans. The most common cause of shigella food poisoning occurs when human feces comes in contact with food, which is then eaten by another human. It can also be spread via person-to-person contact or through water contaminated with human feces. In developing countries, the shigella bacteria is responsible for many cases of life-threatening dysentery, particularly in young children. In the United States, daycare centers, swimming pools, beaches, water parks, and hot tubs are common sources of shigella infection. It is also very common for shigella infections to occur when food handlers do not wash their hands after using the bathroom, when vegetables are harvested from sewage-contaminated fields, or when flies land in feces and then land on food.
The bacteria Listeria monocytogenes causes Listeriosis, a serious foodborne disease that results in approximately 1600 hospitalizations and 260 deaths every year. People with this infection suffer fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, which can spread to neurological symptoms. Pregnant women who get listeriosis may suffer miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.
The listeria bacteria grows in soil and water. The most common types of food infected with listeria include raw dairy products, uncooked meats, and vegetables. Food processing plants that produce hot dogs and deli meats can also spread listeria. Listeria is particularly dangerous because it can thrive in a refrigerator environment, but fortunately it can be killed by thorough cooking.
The Campylobacter pathogen is the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States, and is responsible for an estimated 2.4 million cases of food poisoning every year. Typical signs of campylobacter food poisoning include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. The infection rarely causes hospitalization or death, and patients usually recover on their own so long as they continue to rehydrate. Recovery usually takes 3-5 days, but sometimes up to 10 days.
Campylobacter grows well in birds, but does not cause them to become ill. Infections in humans appear to be caused by eating raw or undercooked poultry, or from cross-contamination with poultry products. Just one drop of juice from raw chicken can cause a campylobacter infection in humans.
Outbreaks of the norovirus tend to occur on cruise ships, day cares, nursing homes, schools, and other places where many people are in close contact. It is a highly contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal illness for 1-3 days in most people, although it can cause severe dehydration in infants, the elderly, or people with weak immune systems. Symptoms of infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and fever.
The norovirus grows in the gastrointestinal system of an infected person, and it is present in the stools and vomit. Large outbreaks of this disease usually occur when sick people do not wash their hands, and then prepare food for large numbers of other people. However, norovirus can also be transmitted on contaminated surfaces and by close contact with an infected person.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A are rare. They usually occur when an infected food handler suffering from diarrhea does not wash their hands properly before preparing food. People can get hepatitis A when they eat food contaminated by microscopic amounts of fecal matter. Hepatitis A is a contagious virus that causes severe inflammation of the liver. Onset of the disease usually occurs within 15-50 days after exposure. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), fatigue, weight-loss, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, and elevated liver enzymes in blood tests. More than 85% of people recover within 3 months. Hepatitis A is not usually fatal, but it can cause death in the elderly and people with pre-existing liver disease.
Cyclospora outbreaks are rare in the United States. The parasite, Cyclospora cayetanesis, is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical countries. In the last few decades, outbreaks of Cyclospora food poisoning have been linked to imported fresh produce from these countries (including basil, raspberries, snow peas, and lettuce). The parasite is spread when fecal mater contaminates food or water. Once the parasite is ingested, it infects the small intestine (bowel). After a week-long incubation period, Cyclospora causes a gastrointestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis infection include watery, frequent diarrhea, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. Without treatment, average duration of the illness is 57 days.
Cryptosporidosis is a microscopic parasite that infects the intestines of humans and animals and causes a disease called “Cryptosporidosis” (also known as”Crypto”). The parasite spreads when feces contaminates food or water that is ingested by another person. It is able to survive in many environments and is widespread in all regions in the United States. It can survive chlorine in pools, which is why Crypto outbreaks frequently occur in community pools, hot tubs, lakes, ponds, water parks, etc. Symptoms of cryptosporidosis occur 2-10 days after infection (~7 days) and typically include watery diarrhea for 1-2 weeks. The illness is not usually life-threatening for healthy adults, but can be serious for children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.
Do I have a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
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