Monday, July 18, 2011


Although food poisoning can occur in any season, the warm temperatures of
Summer create special risks.

Food poisoning is caused when we eat food or drink that has been contaminated, most commonly by bacteria, but sometimes by viruses and chemicals.

Food poisoning can be caused by forces we can control and forces we cannot control. When shopping, check the "used-by-dates" on products to make sure you are not buying old inventory that might have started to spoil. Especially be careful of pre-ground hamburger, it has lots of surface area which may become contaminated with fecal material from slaughtered cows. If you can buy hamburger that has been freshly ground at the store from chunks of meat, as opposed to being re-ground from tubes of previously ground hamburger, you decrease your chance of food poisoning. Vegetables may be contaminated by fecal material from the fields where the vegetables are grown or from poor sanitation on the part of workers who harvest these vegetables. No matter how fresh and clean your vegetables look, they should be thoroughly washed and drained before use. Buying from a reputable food store increases your chances for safety as most of the large chain stores have strict food purchasing and handling protocols.

Making sure you buy your foods in a careful manner, is only the first step. Food preparation is also a common source of contamination. Unclean cutting boards and other contaminated surface areas will pass bacterial contamination onto foodstuffs that are prepared on those surfaces. Cleaning surfaces prior to food preparation with a mix of water and dish-soap will decontaminate 99% of all surface areas.

Foodstuffs prepared with mayonnaise are especially susceptible to bacterial growth during the summer heat. Refrigeration and rapid consumption of foodstuffs after removal from refrigeration is the best way to avoid a bad summer experience.

Always wash your hands before and after preparing foods. Wash with hot soapy water and use disposable towels for wiping and cleanup wherever possible. Some people suggest using separate cutting boards for preparing raw meat and poultry, and a separate board for vegetables. Wherever possible keep hot foods hot (over 150°F) and cold foods cold (under 40°F).

Trust your senses. If food looks strange or smells bad or otherwise worries you, don't eat it. It is not worth the risk.

The symptoms of food poisoning may vary with the source of the contamination. Most types of food poisoning cause one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, stomach cramps, fatigue and fever. You should see a doctor or go to an emergency room immediately if you have any of the following symptoms: frequent episodes of vomiting for more than 2 days; vomiting blood; inability to keep fluids down for 24 hours; severe diarrhea for more than 3 days; blood in your bowel movement; extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping; an oral temperature higher than 101.5 F; or, signs of dehydration such as excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness.

If you are a victim of food poisoning, chances are you will not be the only one to get sick as others have probably eaten from the same store, restaurant or picnic. If you suspect a source, check with others who ate the same food at the restaurant or purchased hamburger or other foods from the same grocery store.

Although most cases of food poisoning cause mild symptoms, food poisoning can be life threatening, so when in doubt, it is better to go to the emergency room or see your doctor.

Charfoos & Christensen, P.C. has been handling food poisoning claims for over 35 years. From contaminated mushrooms on pizzas, to contaminated peppers, to contaminated hamburger, our firm has made recoveries against commercial grocers and restaurants. Saving samples of suspected food and gathering the names and phone numbers of other customers who shopped at the same store or ate at the same restaurant is always helpful in proving food poisoning cases.

If you believe you have been a victim of serious food poisoning resulting in hospitalization or a permanent injury, please feel free to call any of the lawyers at Charfoos & Christensen, P.C.

J. Douglas Peters
(313) 875-8080

1 comment:

  1. Certain level 2 award in food safety in catering does promote a well preparation and handling of food when it comes to catering services. This is to avoid food poisoning in their foods and to customers.