When eating at a local restaurant, patrons may not be surprised to see a dirty utensil, chicken that is too cold, or even an unwanted hair on the plate. Even if these things aren't enough to get you sick, it could be a sign that there are problems in the kitchen that could lead to more serious issues. Salmonella and other food-borne bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections per year in the U.S. Many of these infections can be traced to restaurant meals served to unsuspecting customers.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people who are exposed to Salmonella get diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Symptoms can begin anywhere from 6 hours to 6 days after exposure and generally last for 4 to 7 days. Some people may require hospitalization and about 420 people die every year from Salmonella exposure.
Salmonella outbreaks often involve contaminated food. This can be found in vegetables, eggs, chicken, pork, frozen foods, and even peanut butter. Food that is contaminated usually smells normal so it can be hard for the person eating the food to know if it has been contaminated or mishandled.
Just how common Salmonella is may surprise you. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, about 1 in 10 chicken breasts, drumsticks, or wings that consumers purchase may contain Salmonella, likely caused by contamination from chicken feces during slaughter.
Did I Get Salmonella From Eating at a Restaurant?
When preparing your own foods at home, you are in control of the food as it arrives. You can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of Salmonella infection, like washing your hands, washing and disinfecting surfaces that touched raw foods, storing food at the right temperature, and cooking foods properly.
When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you may have no idea what is going on back in the kitchen. Television shows like Kitchen Nightmares can provide a worst-case scenario of what the conditions are like in the kitchen, with old food, mislabeled food, rotting food, not storing food at safe temperatures, cross-contamination, mold, etc.
After a Salmonella outbreak is tied to a restaurant, local health departments may temporarily shut down the restaurant to investigate the outbreak. Unfortunately, it may take a dozen people or more to be exposed to the bacteria before it can be linked back to the place where the exposure occurred.
After a Salmonella Outbreak
In December, a Salmonella outbreak infected at least 33 people in health-care facilities in Southern Pennsylvania, which was tied to pre-cut fruit mix. The possibly tainted products were distributed to schools, healthcare institutions, banquet halls, hotels, and restaurants.
If someone gets sick from Salmonella, they may not think about filing a claim against the restaurant that caused the injury. However, if the injury victim has to be hospitalized or misses work because of the illness, they may be able to recover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages associated with the exposure.
If you fell ill after eating contaminated food, the Gilman & Bedigian team is here to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of your personal injury and food poisoning claim. Taking action may also help prevent others from suffering a similar injury in the future. Call us today at 800.529.6162 for a free consultation.