Salmonella Outbreak Causes Severe Illnesses Across Nine States
A massive outbreak of salmonella that occurred in nine different states has been linked to egg products with several brand names. The illness has led to 207 million eggs being recalled. The contaminated eggs originated at Rose Acres Farms, which is located in Indiana.
Salmonella is a severe form of food poisoning that can be dangerous and in severe cases, can cause death. While no deaths have been linked to this outbreak, there are 35 confirmed cases of illnesses including 11 people who suffered complications and were hospitalized because of exposure to the bacteria.
What is salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacterium that causes many cases of food born illnesses around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.2 million people get salmonella in the United States every year. While most people can recover from salmonella without treatment, this bacteria can cause severe illnesses and leads to about 23,000 people being hospitalized every year. Salmonella can be deadly. Each year, about 450 Americans die because of salmonella poisoning.
The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are fever, diarrhea, bloody stools, chills, headache, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning typically appear between 12 and 72 hours after a person has been infected. In most cases, people feel better after about 4 to 7 days, but a full recovery can take much longer.
When infants, people with weakened immune systems or older adults are infected with salmonella, there is a higher risk of complications. While doctors may prescribe antibiotics in these situations, there are now several strains that have become antibiotic resistant.
Where does salmonella come from?
People can contract salmonella poisoning from a variety of sources, including eating meat or poultry, eating other food that has been contaminated with fertilizers, contaminated water, unsanitary cooking habits, not washing hands, and from contact with pets.
Salmonella is often associated with chicken products. This is in part because chickens lay eggs through the same place as where they eliminate feces, and also because infected chickens can pass the bacteria to their eggs before the protective shell forms.
How to avoid getting salmonella?
People can reduce their chances of contracting salmonella poisoning by practicing food safety. Do not consume eggs, beef, pork or poultry that are undercooked. Always refrigerate foods that are meant to be refrigerated. Do not use tools like knives and cutting boards for raw food and then for vegetables or foods that will not be cooked or that have already been cooked. Wash your hands when preparing food and wash after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash your produce before eating.
Also, wash your hands after contact with animals. Many animals can carry this bacteria and contact with their toys, or other objects could lead to illness.
The source of the egg outbreak
When many people become ill from salmonella in cases that appear to be linked, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will begin an investigation into the origins of the contamination and try to determine the source. In the case of the recent salmonella outbreak, the FDA found that the illnesses were all occurring in patients who had recently eaten eggs. The FDA was able to determine that Rose Acres Farms was the source of the eggs that the sickened people ate. Once the farm was suspected, the FDA was able to analyze samples of the bacteria from the farm and determine that the specific strain of salmonella found at the farm was the same as the one that had sickened people across several states.
The eggs had been sold under several labels including Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Coburn Farms, Glenview, Nelms, Sunshine Farms, and Great Value. Some of the eggs were also sold to restaurants.
Once the FDA determined that the eggs were infected, Rose Acres Farms issued a voluntary recall of the eggs. People who believe that they purchased the recalled eggs are advised not to use them.
Rose Acres Farm food safety violations
According to a report by the FDA, the farm responsible for the contaminated eggs was in violation of many regulations meant to prevent food contamination. Employees were seen skipping sanitation processes, the facility was full of condensation that was dripping onto the production equipment, equipment was covered in grime from old eggs, and the facility was infested with rodents including mice and rats.
The disturbing reports prompted Rosa DeLauro, a Congresswoman from Connecticut, to question the FDA about the investigation and about what steps were being taken to ensure that the facility could not continue to engage in such egregious violations of food safety standards.
The unsanitary environment within the factory that produced the eggs likely contributed to the contamination that made many people severely ill.
Food poisoning liability
When people suffer illnesses because of contaminated food, the food manufacturer can be held liable. A successful case against a food manufacturer involves the plaintiff showing that the food was contaminated, that they consumed the contaminated food, and that the contamination was the cause of their illness.
In many states, strict liability applies to food poisoning claims. This means that the plaintiff only must prove that the food that made them sick was contaminated, and whether the company that produced the product was negligent or not is of no consequence. In other places, the plaintiff would have a claim based on negligence. In these cases, the plaintiff would have to show that the manufacturer of the food did not meet the standard of care for preparing food. There is also the possibility of filing a claim based on a breach of warranty because food producers are expected to meet a minimum standard of food safety.
While some cases of food poisoning might be just unpleasant, others can cause severe conditions, long-term consequences, and even death. At Parker Waichman LLP, we believe that food producers that cut corners at the expense of people’s health should be held responsible for their actions.
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If you have contracted salmonella poisoning, contact Parker Waichman LLP today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for a free consultation with one of our experienced salmonella poisoning lawsuit attorneys.
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