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According to recent data released by the US Public Health Service, an estimated 76 million people acquire foodborne disease (FBDs) annually, with 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Special risks of death exist in elderly persons or individuals who are immunocompromised or pregnant. The most common causes of contaminated food products are inadequate refrigeration, unsanitary food preparation and processing conditions, infected food handlers, and infectious organisms including:
Botulism. This is usually found in canned foods where the can has been dented, or the canning process was incorrectly carried out. The most common foods for this to occur in are corn, green beans, and peas. However, botulism can also occur in restaurants where food is stored incorrectly or not heated well. Honey spores can also cause botulism in infants.
Campylobacter is found in the stool of poultry, various other birds, and farm animals. Children, who get if from eating poultry that has been improperly cooked or drinking milk that has not been pasteurized, most easily contract it.
Clostridium can be found both human and animal stool. Children usually contract this because food handlers have failed to wash their hands correctly, and food is left sitting for a time, such as on top of a steam table.
E. coli can also be found in both human and animal stool, and can spread via the wrong handing of food. The most severe cases arise from consuming ground beef that has not been fully cooked, as well as consuming unpasteurized apple juice or milk. Consuming fruit or vegetables without first properly washing them can also cause cases.
Salmonella. Commonly found in eggs, poultry, and other meat. Children can get salmonella easily from eating raw or undercooked eggs, undercooked poultry or meat, or drinking unpasteurized milk. Improper food handling is another common cause of salmonella – for example, putting cooked poultry back on the same plate where it had been when raw.
Staphylococcus aureus is commonly called “staph,” and thought to be the most common cause of foodborne illness. Symptoms of staph often include skin infections, which range from impetigo and boils to more minor forms, such as pimples. It usually gets in the food during improper food handling and grows to produce toxins in warm food (measured at approximately 100 degrees). Cooking does not destroy staph.
Mushrooms. Many kinds of wild mushrooms contain poisons from seven types of toxins, and these can be lethal when ingested.
Solanine poisoning is caused by a toxin found in sprouting potatoes. Either the actual sprouts or the skin of the potato causes problems when eaten.
Fish poisoning can be very serious, and it most severe when caused by large, tropical fish. The mild form is called scombroid poisoning and manifests in allergy-like symptoms, such as hives, sweating, and diarrhea. Eating tuna or a similar type of fish that contains too much histamine causes this type of poisoning.
Shellfish poisoning. Nerve toxins are found in some shellfish and are most common during red tides. Symptoms can include paralysis, unusual sensations or feelings, and a hot-cold reversal.
Norwalk virus usually results from eating salads, uncooked shellfish, cookies, sandwiches, and ice.
In addition to biologic organisms described above, other common causes of food-related injury and poisoning result from the unintended introduction of non-biologic substances or “foreign bodies”, which have included rocks, pins, animal bones, and hazardous chemicals. Among the most common injuries sustained as a result of ingesting non-biologic contaminants include broken teeth, with resulting gum and bone infection; TMJ, the acronym for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which is caused by derangement of the cartilage where the lower jaw connects to the skull causing pressure and stretching of the associated sensory nerves; damage to the trachea, stomach and internal digestive organs; and death.
Parker Scheer has successfully represented individuals and children injured as a result of contaminated food products.
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If you have suffered an injury from a food product or were a victim of food poisoning, contact us for a free confidential case review from a Food Poisoning Lawyer and receive a response within hours, or call (617) 886-0500 . If you need a lawyer outside of Massachusetts, contact us for a referral.
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