Contaminated food causes thousands of cases of food poisoning every day. Whether canned, packaged, dried or fresh, toxins in tainted food can cause serious harm. Symptoms range from nausea and vomiting, to crippling abdominal distress, bloody stools, high fever, and in extreme cases, even death.
Poisoning from contaminated food isn’t the only danger we face. There are thousands of reported cases each year of foreign objects, such as bugs, shards of glass and plastic, metal wire, and other harmful materials found in store-bought food. In one infamous case, a severed finger was found in a can of tomato paste!
It goes without saying that consuming a foreign object can cause serious health problems, often requiring medical treatment, or even emergency surgery to remove the object.
If you or your family suffered food poisoning, or were injured after consuming a foreign object, you may be able to recoup your losses, otherwise known as damages. This includes reimbursement for your medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and for the pain and suffering you endured.
The most common bacteria linked to food poisoning:
Clostridium botulinum (botulism) is found in the soil and fertilizer used to grow commercial food. When canned foods aren’t tightly sealed and oxygen seaps in, clostridium botulinum can quickly spread, becoming toxic. Symptoms include double vision, severe nausea, lethargy, droopy eyelids, trouble speaking and swallowing, and impaired breathing. It can be fatal in 3 to 10 days.
Salmonella is found in the intestinal tracts and feces of animals. It’s transmitted in undercooked or raw eggs, poultry, dairy products, meats, and seafood. Most salmonella bacteria is eliminated when the food is properly cooked, but other strains can survive the hottest temperatures.
Symptoms include headaches, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, chills, cold sweats, and fever. They appear 6 to 48 hours after eating, and can last up to two days.
Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is found in raw milk, eggs, and other dairy products. The bacteria can also be found in unchlorinated water, in the intestinal tracts of animals, and in the juice of meats and poultry. It’s easily transferred from one food product to another.
E.coli is frequently found in kitchen areas of restaurants, where it multiplies quickly. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and lethargy; they appear 24 to 48 hours after eating, and last 7 to 10 days.
Do you have a case?
Sometimes, tracing your illness back to contaminated food can be easy: that jar of expired mayonnaise, the undercooked eggs, or the chicken left unwrapped in the refrigerator. Other times, it can be almost impossible. How can you know which food was the culprit if you ate several times before getting sick? Worse, you may have thrown out the can or wrapping containing traces of the bacteria.
While reported cases of rodents, bugs, metal, and crumbled glass in food are not uncommon, foreign objects are usually discovered before the food is consumed. Most people are disgusted by what they see, but are not otherwise harmed.
In some cases, people do swallow the object. These people need emergency medical treatment to have their stomachs pumped, or surgery to remove the glass, metal, or other object stuck in their digestive tract.
The deciding factor…
To file a personal injury claim, you must have a real injury, and proof linking your injury to the contaminated food. Your injury must be more serious than disgust at the sight of a foreign object, or a day of nausea and diarrhea from mild food poisoning.
Without a combination of medical bills and other legitimate losses, your choices may be limited to complaining to the manager or writing a nasty letter to the manufacturer. In return, you may receive a few coupons, or an agreement to exchange the tainted food item for another, which is all you’re entitled to by law.
The Manufacturer and the Supermarket
In a food injury claim, the manufacturer and the supermarket where you purchased the food may be individually and collectively responsible for your injuries.
For serious injuries, you’ll need strong evidence. This can include the can or packaging from the tainted food, or any of the remaining food, and photographs of the food item and packaging. If you ingested a foreign object, you’ll need x-rays, and copies of all related medical records.
You’ll also need receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses, such as prescriptions, hospital parking fees, and more. Next, speak with your employer; ask for a letter (on company letterhead) verifying the dates and times you were absent from work.
Witness statements from non-family members will also help. Ask witnesses to write down and describe how you suffered after ingesting the contaminated food. If your witnesses were also poisoned from the same food, have them confirm that in their statements. They should sign and date each page.
Before filing a contaminated food injury claim, be sure you didn’t contribute to your own injury. For example, you left mayonnaise-based potato salad out on the picnic table during a summer barbecue, then got a bad case of food poisoning. If your own negligence was wholly or partially responsible for your injuries, you won’t have a strong case.
To have a legitimate claim against the seller or manufacturer of a food item, you must be able to show the item was contaminated when you purchased it. If not, you’ll have a tough time winning your claim.
The Role of Attorneys
Pursuing a serious food poisoning or foreign object injury claim takes the expertise of a well-seasoned attorney. Personal injury attorneys can take depositions of food manufacturing representatives and employees, issue subpoenas for company records, and file lawsuits – all actions you can’t take on your own.
Serious food contamination cases often require substantial amounts of money to prove. Attorneys pay these costs up front, out of their own pocket. You don’t have to pay any money until, and unless your attorney settles your case or wins it at trial. Then your attorney takes a percentage of the amount you’re awarded.
You only have one opportunity to succeed in a personal injury claim. Don’t squander it by trying to take on a food manufacturer or supermarket on your own. Get an attorney.
How Much is Your Injury Claim Worth?
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Visitor Questions on Contaminated Food (Store Bought)
Vertebrae in our Planters Nuts… My husband was sitting at home enjoying a healthy snack of Planters nuts when, ouch! He bit into a sharp object. With much talking and hesitation I took pictures of the object and finally did mail it in for analysis. This object was admitted by Planters Company to indeed be a rather large vermin bone.... Read More >>
Fingernail in my ginger chew… I was eating a ginger chew and as I was chewing I bit into something sharp. I swallowed some and spit some out. It was a fingernail. I still have it in my freezer. I vomited for 5 days and needed to take anti-anxiety medication to be able to swallow to stay hydrated. The company... Read More >>
Rock in chocolate covered coffee beans damaged my tooth… I was eating some chocolate covered coffee beans. I bit into one and felt an excruciating pain in my tooth and heard a grinding/squeaking noise. I felt something in my mouth and thought it was a tooth but it was a pebble. I contacted the company and they called me. They wanted me to send... Read More >>
Sharp foreign object found in my Subway sandwich… While eating a Subway sandwich I bit down on something hard and felt something in my mouth. My first thought was one of my new crowns came out. What I took out of my mouth was a black item. One end looks like a screw and the other is SHARP like a tack. It is... Read More >>
Consumed tiny glass fragments on a sandwich’s rye bread… I recently bought a pastrami sandwich from a convenience store. It wasn’t until a couple bites in that I noticed biting something hard. I spat it out and then looked at my remaining uneaten sandwich and noticed tiny blue strips of what I think was glass or hard plastic. It looked like the broken glass... Read More >>
Bit into plastic in a muffin… I purchased some muffins from a grocery store and as I was eating the muffin I bit into a hard foreign object. I took it out of my mouth and saw it was a hard plastic ball. I’m not sure if it was made from chemicals or what. I’ve been getting sore throats and feeling... Read More >>
Bit into pieces of glass in a bag of chips and broke my tooth… My daughter and I were sharing a bag of cheesy krazy curls I had purchased at the seven eleven. I had taken a piece out and when I bit into it I felt my tooth break. When I spit it all out I saw there were multiple pieces of glass. I’m very glad my 3... Read More >>
Broke tooth on a large piece of bone in “boneless” chicken… I purchased boneless skinless chicken breast from a local grocery store, cooked it for my husband and I, and proceeded to eat it. A couple of bites in I chipped my tooth on a large fragment of bone. I’ve had two tooth/gum surgeries as a result. I’ve saved all medical/dental bills, the chicken bone piece,... Read More >>
Recourse after finding bird (or small mammal) bone in my cereal? I poured my Mini Wheats into a bowl and added milk and a banana. I started eating said bowl of cereal, and to my amazement, I had something in my mouth that wasn’t Mini-wheatish. When I removed the item from my mouth, it looked like a blackened bird or rodent bone, which I saved. The... Read More >>
Liability for large piece of plastic found in “Ready to Eat” salad? A week ago I bought a couple ready to eat salads from a major chain supermarket by my home. It was a store brand product. So while eating it, at almost the end as I was swallowing some food, I felt that something wasn’t right. I found it was a 1 inch by 1/2 inch... Read More >>
Liability for a broken tooth from foreign objects in frozen yogurt? I was eating a Publix supermarket espresso chip frozen yogurt and felt a hard object in my mouth. I pulled out pieces of hard plastic and found several other pieces in my bowl. I retained the pieces without washing and wrapped them in a paper towel. I still have the remaining carton. I called Publix... Read More >>
Broken Tooth from Almond Shell in Cereal… Every morning I have the same thing for breakfast, greek yogurt and crunchy cereal. This morning I was eating and I felt the most excruciating pain. I bit down on an almond shell baked into my cereal. It had impaled the pointy end into my gum and chipped off a molar. The molar had a... Read More >>
Shards of Glass in Ice Cream Sundae… We were on a flight and had just been served our ice cream sundaes and I started eating it. All of a sudden I bit down and noticed the ice cream was very crunchy. I took one more bite, and this time it was a big hard chunk of something. I started feeling around in... Read More >>
Mouth Injured by Piece of Plastic in a Box of Cookies… I was eating out of a package of animal cookies we had bought that day from the store. I put what I thought was a piece of cookie in my mouth and felt a jab in the roof of my mouth. It was very painful and there was blood. I pulled out the piece of... Read More >>
Injured by Metal Wire in Food… I went to a restaurant in Miami, Florida last week and ordered a shrimp dish. I found a metal wire in my food while chewing. It cut my mouth from inside. At that time I let the head chef know about it (manager was on vacation that day). After that I still felt something sharp... Read More >>
Compensation for loss of a tooth? I bit into a rice cake bought at a grocery store and was injured. I felt something hard between my top and bottom tooth and a sharp prick into my upper palate. I spit the contents of my mouth out and there was some blood and a piece of white plastic mixed in with the... Read More >>
Food Poisoning from Grocery Store… I ate a meal at a major grocery store chain in May and got food poisoning. I fell in the bathroom and hit my head so I went to the emergency room for tests. I had medical bills sent to the grocery store’s insurance company’s claims representative. He has all the bills and doctors reports... Read More >>
Broken tooth from biting on a rock in a salad… I purchased a salad to go at a big international chain Mexican restaurant this evening. When I got home & was eating it, I bit down onto a pea sized rock & broke off a piece of my molar. I called the restaurant & spoke with the manager telling her what happened & what I... Read More >>
Glass in my frozen pizza… I got injured by chewing on a piece of glass that was in my slice of packaged homemade frozen pizza. I’m pretty sure the packaging company was responsible because the product was properly sealed before I had opened it. I saved the receipt, pizza box, packaging that the pizza was sealed in, and of course... Read More >>
Declining a Previously Accepted Settlement Offer? I was eating a bag of chips and it cracked my tooth. I called the vendor and advised them of this incident. I was asked a number of question which one was if I had dental ins. and the answer was yes. They sent me out a claim form for the dentist to fill out.... Read More >>