Food Poisoning Lawyer

Food Poisoning Lawyer

You’ve just come back home after eating at a local restaurant.  Suddenly, you’re feeling pain and discomfort in your abdomen. You may have contracted food poisoning, an all too common occurrence.  According to Statistics Canada, it’s estimated eight million Canadians are affected by food poisoning each year. Out of these over, 11,000 will require hospitalization, and more than 200 people will die. 

Food poisoning can be severe. However, a majority of cases will resolve on their own. When purchasing groceries from a store or eating out, food poisoning isn’t something you should worry about. Learn more about what food poisoning is, its signs and symptoms, as well as steps you can take to prevent it. Find out about your legal rights. In some cases, you may even be able to claim compensation

What Is Food Poisoning? 

Food poisoning is an illness caused by consuming food that has been contaminated. Bacteria, viruses, or even fungi can contaminate food. It can occur in several ways. It’s possible you ate undercooked meat. Food can also be spoiled if it was stored improperly or past its best before date. 

Several cases of produce, such as lettuce, have been contaminated with E. coli. Finally, food poisoning may happen from contaminated water as well. The Walkerton crisis highlighted this issue for all Canadians. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified five primary organisms responsible for food poisoning in Canada.

Organism

Illness/year

Hospitalizations/year

Deaths/year

Norovirus

1 million

1,180

21

Listeria

178

150

35

Salmonella

88,000

925

17

E. Coli 0157

12,800

245

8

Campylobacter

145,000

565

5

Of all of these, Listeria tends to be the most serious and causes the most deaths. Many of these bacteria produce toxins, which is one of the main reasons for the sickness. While the cooking process can kill the bacteria, the toxins can still make you ill. If any food looks spoiled, you should simply throw it out.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning & Duration

Symptoms of Food Poisoning & DurationFood poisoning symptoms can vary from person to person. Different bacteria can also produce various kinds of illnesses. Generally, people may have some combination of the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches

Food poisoning signs and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Many people have likely experienced mild food poisoning after eating something that didn’t agree with them. In the case of severe symptoms, it may be time to contact your doctor. Sometimes food poisoning could be mistaken for the stomach flu as many symptoms overlap.

A common question is how long food poisoning lasts. Typically, symptoms will start after six to 24 hours but may come even earlier. Most cases will resolve themselves within one to two days. If your symptoms persist, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

Treatment for Food Poisoning

One of the main concerns with food poisoning is dehydration, so it’s crucial to drink fluids. Opt for drinks that contain electrolytes (such as sports drinks) rather than relying on water only. This is because water alone is low in sodium and potassium, lost during diarrhea and vomiting. There are usually no specific treatments other than rest and avoiding any different foods, which may be aggravating. 

For people requiring hospitalization, they may receive fluids by IV. Antibiotics may be helpful in only some cases. This is because the cause of food poisoning can often be a virus. From the chart above, Norovirus causes more cases than the four bacteria combined.

Pro-Tip

“It’s important to drink fluids to prevent dehydration.”

Preventing Food Poisoning

Preventing Food Poisoning

The most important thing is prevention. The four key actions are cook, clean, separate, and chill.

Cook: Make sure that all meats are cooked to the appropriate temperature. Using a meat thermometer can help to identify this. The temperature for each kind of meat varies, though. Be sure to check the required temperatures for beef, chicken, and pork.

Clean: All kitchen surfaces should be washed. Wash cutting boards, utensils, and anything else that came in contact with raw meat. Be sure to use warm soapy water. After handling any uncooked meat, you should wash your hands for 20 seconds.

Separate: Raw meat should never be in contact with other foods. Keep all the foods on different plates. Use individual cutting boards for meat and vegetables. 

Chill: Leftovers must be properly stored. Any cooked food should be refrigerated after two hours. Bacteria can multiply quickly at room temperature. When thawing frozen foods, they should only be thawed in cold water, refrigerators, or microwaves. Don’t leave frozen meat out to thaw at room temperature.

One final recommendation is to wash all produce thoroughly under running water. By following these steps, the vast majority of food poisoning cases can be prevented. 

Can I Sue if I have been the Victim of Food Poisoning? 

In some cases, people have successfully sued for compensation as a result of food poisoning. This includes high-profile widespread cases as well as individual ones. 

One of the most well-known cases in Canada was the Maple Leaf Foods Listeria contamination of 2008. At least 5,000 people were affected across Canada, and 20 people died as a result. This occurred after machinery was contaminated by Listeria, which then spread to various deli meats. It was one of Canada’s most known food poisoning lawsuits, with Maple Leaf paying out 27 million in damages to the victims. 

In terms of individual cases, perhaps arising from a local restaurant, suing can be more difficult. For mild cases of food poisoning, it’s unlikely you will receive any compensation. Even with more severe cases, several things must be proven first. 

You must show that your illness was a result of eating contaminated food from that restaurant or business. Essentially, it has to be proven the food itself was contaminated and that you were ill due to eating this food. A stool sample (ordered by a physician) showing the harmful microorganism is essential. Still, it may be challenging to link this to a specific business. 

Damages can be awarded for lost wages as a result of missing work due to illness. You may also receive damages for any costs incurred due to the illness (medical expenses) or pain and suffering. In most cases where an individual recovers within a day or so, it would be difficult to sue for any damages.

Pro-Tip

“It’s important to drink fluids to prevent dehydration.”

FAQs Food Poisoning Lawyer

Is food poisoning a severe illness?

In most cases, food poisoning isn’t severe and will resolve on its own. Rarely, it may require medical care.

Can I sue for damages as a result of food poisoning?

It will be necessary to prove that your illness was a result of eating contaminated food. You would have to have lost wages or other incurred costs as a result of the disease. In most cases, you are unlikely to receive any compensation. 

How can I prevent food poisoning?

Wash all produce thoroughly and cook all meats to the appropriate temperature. Keep raw meats separate from other products. Many cases are easily preventable.

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