November 9, 2018 Category: Product Liability
More than a dozen food manufacturers in the United States have issued a recall for millions of pounds of food. The recall includes many prepared meals – including salads, burritos, and pizzas – that were sold in stores in California. It’s believed that the recalled food may contain vegetables that could be contaminated with listeria and/or salmonella. Consuming these foods could potentially cause you to suffer from food poisoning. Food poisoning, if not treated promptly, can be incredibly dangerous for you and your family.
Can I Sue a Food Manufacturer If I Eat Contaminated Food?
It’s possible. Any company that puts a product on the market has an obligation to make sure that it’s safe for customer use. This includes agriculture and food manufacturers. Under California state law, food companies can be held personally responsible for injuries that are caused by products they manufacture, sell, or distribute.
In fact, a food manufacturer doesn’t have to be negligent to be held accountable. Companies can be held strictly liable for damage caused by a product. Since companies can be held strictly liable, there’s an incentive for them to make sure that consumers get their hands on the safest food and products. Companies should carefully source ingredients, ensure that manufacturing facilities are clean, and perform random product inspections. Anything less can allow dangerous foods and products to make it onto the shelves of your local market.
You may have a valid lawsuit against a food manufacturer if you can prove that you suffered an injury because of one of its products. The injury must have been caused by a product defect or the company’s failure to warn about possible risks. You can also base a food poisoning lawsuit on the fact that a company was negligent.
Why Do Companies Issue Recalls?
Recalls are a tool that can help companies (or the government) protect consumers from potentially dangerous products. A recall does not always mean that there’s a verified or legitimate threat. Instead, recalls are a preventative measure.
Most recalls are voluntary. When a company learns about a potential risk or danger with one of its products, it has the ability to recall those items voluntarily. If food is the subject of a recall, the company alerts certain government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture (USDA). These agencies help to issue the recall and also investigate the issue.
Can a Recall Limit a Food Manufacturer’s Liability If I Get Sick?
Not necessarily. Remember, food manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries and harm caused by their food and products. Taking steps to protect you after a dangerous product is already on the market won’t protect a company from lawsuits. You certainly have the right to sue a food manufacturer if you get food poisoning because you ate a salmonella-filled salad or burrito they sold in your local Trader Joe’s. A recall won’t strip your legal right to pursue compensation. However, you’ll still have to prove that the company’s product is to blame for your injury.
How Do I Know If I Have Food Poisoning?
It’s easy to wonder if you’ve consumed anything tainted with dangerous bacteria when millions of pounds of food are recalled. This particular recall largely affected ready-to-eat foods sold at popular California and Los Angeles-area stores, including Trader Joe’s, Walmart, and Whole Foods. If you shop at these stores and purchase pre-made meals, it’s possible that you may have purchased recalled items. How can you know if you’ve eaten any tainted food?
First, the store where you made the purchase should notify customers that a recall has affected some of the products they sell. If you made the purchase with a loyalty or shoppers club card, you might even get a personal call or email.
Second, food poisoning typically has many very obvious signs. Contact a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Repeated vomiting
- Inability to eat or keep foods down
- Dizziness, and
- Stomach cramps.
Food poisoning can become worse over time if it’s not treated properly. Always seek medical attention if you’ve consumed tainted or infected food. Once you’ve recovered, it can be helpful to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your legal rights.
Have you developed food poisoning after eating food that was recalled by the manufacturer? You may have a legitimate legal claim for damages. Contact our personal injury attorneys to schedule a free consultation and learn more.