What To Do When Contaminated Food Makes You Sick - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

What To Do When Contaminated Food Makes You Sick


Whether cooking dinner for the family, going out to your favourite restaurant or grabbing something to eat at a local festival, the food you eat can make you sick unless it is properly stored, handled and cooked. Particularly during warm weather in the summer and early fall, foodborne illnesses are common. It is estimated that four million people throughout Canada are stricken with a foodborne illness each year resulting in 11,600 victims admitted to hospital and 238 deaths. It is important to understand the causes of foodborne illnesses, what to do to avoid them and how to obtain compensation should you become a victim.

Causes and symptoms of food-related illnesses

A foodborne illness occurs when someone becomes sick after consuming food containing harmful microorganisms, including:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Mould

You can also become ill from food contaminated by chemicals.

Common symptoms that could indicate a person is suffering from a foodborne illness include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever

The onset of symptoms varies depending upon the individual and the type of contamination and could start immediately after the food is eaten, or it could take several days or long for symptoms to develop. Individuals with a compromised or weakened immune system, such as people with AIDS and some forms of cancer, could be particularly susceptible to illness and suffer from the most serious side effects.

Seek treatment for food poisoning

The symptoms associated with illnesses related to food contamination usually go away on their own, but the vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration. If you suspect you have eaten contaminated food, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Depending upon the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might recommend hospitalization and an IV to replenish the fluids you have lost. Individuals who are 60 years of age or older and pregnant women should not delay seeking a medical evaluation for their symptoms.

Avoiding the risks associated with contaminated food

Restaurants, outdoor vendors and your neighbour preparing for a backyard party and barbecue must use safe food handling practices when storing, preparing and cooking the foods they serve in order to prevent harmful contamination of their food. Restaurants and other commercial food vendors must meet standards set by law to operate in Ontario and are subject to inspection. A few precautions everyone, including your neighbor, should take include:

  • When cooking outdoors, use a cooler filled with ice to prevent food from getting warm.
  • Food not refrigerated or kept cool should be thrown unless consumed within two hours.
  • Use a thermometer to check the interior temperature meats cooked on the barbecue. Minimum interior temperature should be at least 60 C. when served.
  • Do not allow raw, uncooked food to come in contact with foods that are ready for consumption. For example, do not use the same knife to cut bread that you just used to slice through a raw steak.
  • Plates or utensils used for raw, uncooked meats, poultry or fish should not be used to serve cooked food unless they have been thoroughly washed.

If you become ill despite your bests efforts to eat where you believe the food served to you is safe, you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation for damages.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully handling claims for compensation for individuals suffering injuries caused by the negligence of others. If you have been injured in an accident or suffer an illness from contaminated food, you should speak to one of our lawyers. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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