Tennessee Product Liability Law: Food Recalls
Food product recalls may occur for numerous reasons, such as adulteration (unable to), contamination, or mislabeling. The Nashville personal injury attorneys at InjuryTN work to acquire fair compensation for those who have fallen ill or suffered fatal injury after having consumed dangerous food products.
Although recalls do not inherently deem a manufacturer of dangerous foods responsible for injury or sickness, it could help to prove the product was indeed defective. Nonetheless, some courts will not permit a recall to be utilized as evidence. In any of these cases, the plaintiff will be responsible for providing evidence to support the elements of their product liability claim, particularly when a specific product has been determined defective or dangerous and that this defect resulted in the plaintiff’s illness or injury.
Additionally, distributors and manufacturers are not permitted to make use of recalls in order to win claims, with the exception being if it has been determined that the plaintiff was in receipt of sufficient warning and notice of the possible hazards involved with using the product.
How Food Recalls Work
Generally speaking, those who produce foods may recall their products from availability in the market in the event that the product has been improperly labeled or when the food could pose some form of adverse health risk to consumers due to evidence showing that the food has been contaminated or is the root cause of a foodborne illness outbreak.
Once a distributor or manufacturer has made the choice to recall their food product of their own volition, this is what is referred to as a voluntary recall. What’s more, in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act was put into effect, which granted the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to mandate a food recall. however, this special circumstance only ever really occurs if the distributor or manufacturer refuses a request from the FDA to voluntarily recall a product. Before 2011, the FDA was dependent on a business’ voluntary choice to issue a recall on their food product, even when the presence of evidence proving the food might be dangerous for humans or animals. Today, the FDA may issue a recall in the event that a distributor or producer of a food product will not agree to remove items from the market.
Additionally, in certain rare instances, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has the power to mandate suspensions to facilities’ registration status (once specific circumstances are met) and, in the event there is proof of the food being manufactured, processed, packaged, shipped, or received in a manner which poses a threat of adverse health effects to users. Companies which have received a notice of suspension will not legally have the ability to sell food in the U.S. until the suspension has been lifted.
Actually, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services has reported that the FDA did not have a sufficient food recall initiation process which assisted in making sure that all foods sold in the U.S. are safe. More specifically, the issue was with what policies and procedures were in place which instructed staff on how food recalls should be carried out. Some cases which had been assessed took almost 6 months following the company’s notice of the existence of food hazards in their product – and more than 2 months after the FDA had been made aware of it – to successfully commence a recall of the product.
This opens up the possibility of distributing numerous foodborne illnesses in addition to potential fatalities prior to the public being made aware of information that federal regulators and manufacturers already have.
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If you have fallen ill or suspect a recalled food product may pose a threat to your health, you should seek immediate legal assistance to better your chances of fair compensation.
Classifications of Food Product Recalls
Once a food product has been recalled, that product is designated as one of three classifications which are determined by the severity of the hazard it poses to consumers. These classifications include the following:
- Class I – The product has been determined to be dangerous or defective and could potentially result in severe adverse health issues or even fatality.
- Class II – The product carries the potential to cause consumers to have an impermanent health issue or poses a minor threat of a severe health effect.
- Class III – The product most likely will not cause any health effects, however, it does violate federal regulations in regards to its labeling or manufacturing.
The majority of litigations conducted often end up with a Class I classification on a food product recall.
What If A Food I’ve Eaten Has Made Me Sick?
In the event that you or a loved one has become sick after consuming or being exposed to dangerous or defective foods, you could be entitled to compensation. Occasionally, one need not even file suit to obtain fair compensation. The most commonly used commercial general liability policies can often provide consumers with coverage for food contamination claims. Claims filed with the product’s manufacturer could end with you having received a practical amount of compensation, however it is more beneficial to employ the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney – as the variable of what damages have been sustained may not be so simple to discern. In general, though, policies such as these will provide coverage for damages related to food product recall in cases where:
- Contamination or mislabeling happened because of how the product was produced, manufactured, prepared, packaged, or distributed;
- The error was accidental or inadvertent;
- Involved mislabeling or contamination;
- The use or consumption of the product caused the consumer bodily injury within a span of one year from the date of consumption;
- The use or consumption of the product caused physical harm to the consumer’s tangible property;
- The product had been insured;
Nonetheless, just because these situations cover those responsible, it does not necessarily mean that compensation will be paid out with no problems, and if a food product’s distributor, manufacturer, or insurer will not compensate you fairly, there may be no other option but to file a lawsuit. In such cases, it is absolutely necessary to have a skilled product liability attorney by your side to protect your rights and champion for your best interest. It is worth noting that for every company in a food product’s distribution chain which faces possible liability, there is likely more than one defendant who has been affected.