Tainted Food and Related Illnesses
It seems like every week there is a food recall due to a potential foodborne illness. Spinach, sprouts, peanut butter, pepper, meat, seafood, and pet food, have all been in the news lately.
The responsibility for food safety falls under various agencies but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees about 80 percent of the U.S. food supply including seafood, produce and cheeses. Under the FDA, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), has 7,600 inspectors and is responsible for on-site inspection of manufacturing facilities, from farm to table and all stops in between.
Increasingly we find that foodborne contaminants are making their way onto the American dinner table.
E.coli, salmonella, botulism, and listeria are bacteria that come from animal sources and can cause disease and even death. Illnesses usually show up between one hour and up to three weeks after consuming contaminated food.
Since farm animals and their raw meat are not sterile, neither are their meat products produced at packing houses. Most recently salsa and guacamole prepared in a restaurant were found to be responsible for nearly one out of every 25 restaurant-associated foodborne outbreaks, largely blamed on unsanitary handling and a lack of refrigeration.
The FDA estimates 5,000 Americans died from contaminated food every year, 325,000 are hospitalized and 76 million are sickened. Foodborne illnesses are increasing at a time when the number of inspectors has not caught up with modern food production systems.
When a number of people who suspect they’ve been sickened call into a manufacturer, restaurant, or USDA at their Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-MPHOTLINE), the FSIS tracks the illness and injury complaints.
If the food does not contain meat or poultry, the reports are forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration (1-888-SAFE FOOD). An alert is issued through the media in the form of a Recall Notification Report. At that point, investigators determine the strain of the foodborne bacteria and determine if it is similar to other outbreaks across the country. In the case of a food such as lettuce, that is distributed across the country from a single source, the lot number, and freshness date must all be matched before a recall can be launched.
No matter how serious the increasing number of cases of food poisoning, there is general agreement the FDA does not have the resources to handle the immense number of inspections and food recalls.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, pending before Congress, would give government the power to order mandatory food recalls instead of waiting for compliance from the manufacturer. It would also require the FDA to inspect high-risk food processors at least once a year instead of one visit every 10 years as is the norm today. Local and state officials would receive added resources to spot trends early on so they are reported more promptly.
Symptoms of food poisoning resemble the flu so many people may not even realize they have suffered a foodborne illness. Consumers should known that the effects can last a lifetime. Kidneys and intestines can be damaged and salmonella is linked to Reiter’s Syndrome that can cause chronic arthritis and organ failure.
Get Help from Our Jacksonville Foodborne Illness Attorneys Now!
Producers and retailers need to be reminded to take food safety seriously. If you have been injured by a contaminated food, you have a right to be compensated for lost time at work and medical treatment. A Jacksonville foodborne illness attorney can help fight for your rights and make sure that the unsafe practices are brought under control. Learn more about food recalls. Contact Farah & Farah today at 877-245-6707 for more information.