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Mark Broadwell Oct. 25, 2014

Food Should Be Fit to Eat

In October, 2013, 22,000 pounds of meat were recalled for fear of possible listeria infection. Virginia was among the 27 states that had received the later recalled meat. Listeria bacteria can cause listeriosis, a very serious disease that can be fatal.

Listeria bacteria are usually contracted from improperly processed meat and unpasteurized dairy products. They are most dangerous to pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems such as the very young and very old. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1600 listeria related illnesses and 260 deaths occur annually in the United States. In 2011, listeria-infected cantaloupe caused the worst outbreak of foodborne illness in U.S. history, killing 33 people.

Foodborne Illness in Virginia

Although listeria has received a lot of attention in recent years, listeria is not the most common cause of foodborne illness in Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports the most common foodborne diseases are bacteria such as salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis and the virus norovirus.

In Virginia the sellers of food, including restaurants, are responsible for illness caused by the food they sell. Food has an implied warranty of fitness to be eaten, which means selling food that causes illness can be negligence on the part of the seller.

What You Should Do if You Have the Symptoms of Foodborne Illness?

Your first step should be to contact your doctor or other reliable medical professional if your illness lasts longer than 24 hours or you are unable to keep down liquids. You should report all foodborne illness to the VDH. Your doctor, the VDH and your lawyer if you later become involved in a lawsuit would like to know the following:

  • Where you ate and how soon you became ill

  • Whether other people became sick after eating the same meal and if possible their contact information

  • What are all your symptoms

  • When you started getting better

  • Which medical professionals you contacted and what they said

If you suspect you have contracted your foodborne illness through negligence on the part of the food manufacturer, distributor or the restaurant where you ate the food, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.  The attorneys at Forbes & Broadwell offer free consultations for the victims of personal injury including foodborne illness.