Tennessee Product Liability Law: Dangerous Foods
While food and drinks may be two of the best of what life has to offer, they can also place us in great danger in the event of contamination or improper labeling. According to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), nearly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses every year. What’s more, over 125,000 will require hospitalization and 3,000 will suffer fatal illness. Of course, such estimates are actually lower than reality due to the fact that not every similar illness is reported, and even less are recognized at all. Actually, it is estimated that only around 3% of those who contract a foodborne illness will seek out medical care, and again, even less will receive an appropriate diagnosis.
At InjuryTN, our foodborne illness lawyers understand that identifying the root cause of the illness is not only crucial for determining liability, but it’s also a necessary component in finding new ways to enhance food safety practices, which is essential to preventing the spread of such illnesses. Nonetheless, this process can be arduous and lengthy, as people tend to eat dozens and dozens of different types of food from a variety of different sources throughout the span of a given week. All outbreaks are deliberately and consistently monitored in addition to being thoroughly evaluated, and this data collected by federal regulators may prove to be invaluable to further litigation.
Research conducted by these federal regulators have attributed three primary sources of foodborne illnesses and fatalities:
- Dairy & Eggs made up nearly 20% of all foodborne illnesses and 15% of all food-related fatalities, and seafood like shellfish made up around 6% of illnesses and fatalities.
- Meat & Poultry ranked as the single leading cause of food-related fatalities at 29% in addition to ranking second for foodborne illnesses at 22%.
- Produce, such as vegetables, leafy greens, and fruits, were the leading cause of foodborne illnesses, exceeding 45% of all cases; and the second leading cause of food-related fatalities, totaling more than 20% of these cases.
Common Types of Foodborne Illnesses
According to reports from the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), although contaminants like allergens, molds, parasites, and viruses always have the potential to result in the contraction of a foodborne illness, the leading cause is actually bacteria. The organisms that tend to cause the greatest number of illnesses and deaths include some of the following:
- Clostridium perfringens
- E. coli
When it comes to foodborne illnesses, the most common of these pathogens is Salmonella. An average of nearly one million Salmonella cases are reported annually, making up over a third of of all foodborne illness reports. This estimate has unfortunately remained constant over the past decade, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet).
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If you have suffered because of a foodborne illness, you should seek immediate legal assistance to protect your rights. Contact our office today to set up your free consultation.
Risks of Contracting a Foodborne Pathogen
Although a sizable proportion of individuals do contract illnesses, the majority of them will be able to fully recover within a few days with minimal side effects. In such cases, litigation may not be the best option. However, some foodborne illnesses will cause much more than a run-of-the-mill stomach ache, leading to more lasting chronic or inflammatory diseases. Foodborne illnesses of this caliber may cause:
- Permanent brain damage
- Damage to fetus
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Nerve damage
Populations at the highest risk include children, older adults, pregnant women, and individuals with pre-existing illnesses.
Food Contamination Investigations
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the investigation of inimical reports from consumers regarding the consumption of food and drink. Countless recalls of food are issued annually – primarily by choice – in regards to everything from poultry to produce.
In congruence with pathogenic illnesses, there are additionally cases where problems arise with the contamination of food which often entails sharp or hard foreign object inside the food itself. Such cases might end in the tissue of the mouth, tongue, throat, esophagus, intestines, and stomach becoming perforated or even lacerated, not to mention harm to the teeth and gums. Fortunately, instances such as this are much less prevalent than most other kinds of food-related illnesses, as the FDA reported less than 200 cases between 1972 and 1997.
Additionally, the failure to appropriately label foods containing specific allergens proves time and again to be a significant problem. For instance, numerous manufacturers produce foods derived from plants which additionally use dairy, peanuts, or other possibly deadly allergens. In the event that this possibility is withheld from consumers, these distributors and manufacturers may be subject to liability.
Liability in Food-related Illness Cases
Although numerous foods which have the potential to be dangerous are recalled every year, it is still important to remember that recalls will not necessarily acquit the manufacturer, grower, distributor, or processor from civil liability. Due to the significant amount of steps involved in the production and distribution of foods, numerous possible sources for their contamination may exist. Depending on what processes are followed, those who may be held liable include farmers, growers, shippers, packagers, and sellers or distributors (including restaurants).
In general, one would need to provide evidence that the defendant had either been the causer of the contamination or was unable to exercise reasonable caution in order to prevent it, as well as that the victim had been injured as a direct result of ingesting the contaminated food.
Contact Experienced Tennessee Food Poisoning Attorneys
The Nashville food poisoning lawyers at InjuryTN have obtained damages for victims of foodborne illnesses to cover medical expenses and loss of wages in addition to pain and suffering. If you or someone you know has fallen ill because of a foodborne pathogen, contact our office for your free and confidential case evaluation to discuss your options. There will be no costs or fees until we win your case. Contact us by phone at (615) 640-HURT or fill out an online contact form to get started on your case today.