Civil Justice Warriors

Understanding Food Recalls and Outbreaks

Everything we eat is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). While most products are safe for us to consume when they appear in stores and restaurants, some foods slip through the cracks. When this occurs, the USDA and FDA encourage food producers to issue voluntary recalls. Occasionally, the agencies issue recalls and warnings themselves.

Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posts food safety alerts and conducts investigations when products cause multistate foodborne disease outbreaks.

What Is a Recall?

A recall occurs any time a manufacturer takes a product off the market. Food products are recalled whenever an edible item might cause consumers to become ill.

The most common reasons for food recalls include:

  • The food is contaminated by bacteria (i.e. Salmonella), parasites (i.e. Cyclospora), or other organisms
  • Foreign objects, like metal or broken glass, are found in the food
  • Allergens that do not appear on the product label are discovered in the food

Sometimes, recalls happen after a product has been sold to many customers.

If you realize you have a recalled product in your kitchen, you may return it for a refund or throw the product away.

Recalled products can also leave germs around your refrigerator and kitchen. Make sure to clean any surface the contaminated food came into contact with. Use hot soapy water and a sanitizing solution, such as diluted bleach.

What Is an Outbreak?

If two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the situation is considered an outbreak. Anytime an outbreak arises, public health officials collect as much information as possible and try to determine what has caused the outbreak. If they find clear and convincing evidence that contaminated food has caused two or more illnesses, they will notify the public to keep more people from getting sick. Officials typically investigate widespread outbreaks and share their findings with the public.

You can find a list of multistate foodborne outbreak investigations on the CDC website.

The most recent outbreak is linked to hard-boiled eggs contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

What If I’ve Already Gotten Sick?

If you’ve consumed a recalled food product, seek medical attention right away, and tell your providers what you ate or drank.

Those who became ill before the recall was announced, or who unknowingly consumed contaminated foods or beverages at a restaurant, may be entitled to compensation. If either of these situations sounds familiar to you, you may be able to hold the manufacturer or food service establishment responsible for your illness. If a store sold you a contaminated product after the recall was announced, it may also be partially liable for your suffering.

Ultimately, if you’ve endured food poisoning that can be linked to a recalled product, you should discuss your illness with an experienced product liability lawyer.

At Mathias Raphael PLLC Accident & Injury Lawyers, our Dallas personal injury attorneys are available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. We have a proven track record of success handling defective food cases just like yours, and we will not hesitate to help you with a valid claim.

To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case, call us at (214) 739-0100 and schedule a free consultation today.