When Bacteria Spoils the Meal

Foodborne bacterial infections affect millions of Americans every year. Many of these bacterial infections create short term discomfort including diarrhea, nausea, and headaches. However, there are some bacteria that can require hospitalization and the use of strong antibacterial medication to clear up. For patients infected with these more serious bacteria, the fight is quite literally life or death.

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The Most Dangerous Bacteria

Salmonella – Salmonella thrives in raw meats, eggs, and unpasteurized milk. It can also live for extended periods of time in fruits or vegetables. The CDC estimates that on average the bacteria is responsible for 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths per year.

E. Coli – Shiga toxin is the most dangerous form of e.coli and it causes 265,000 infections per year. It can be transmitted via a variety of foods and water. The bacteria is responsible for the most recent e.coli outbreak in Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts and has caused the CDC to issue a recall on soy peanut butter products manufactured by I.M. Healthy.

Listeria – Statistically, Listeria is a particularly deadly bacterial infection. Each year, roughly 1,600 people are infected, and of these, 260 succumbed to the infection. The bacteria can thrive in meats, vegetables, dairy products, and fruits.

Norovirus – Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses in the United States and the world. The bacteria can thrive in seafood, vegetables, and fruits. It can also survive for extended periods of time on contaminated surfaces including tables, cutting boards, handrails, silverware, etc. While many people associate Norovirus with the much-publicized outbreaks on cruise ships, it is not a ship that passes in the night. Globally, it occurs most often on dry land and causes 685 million infections per year; nearly 200 million of these occur in children younger than 5 years old.

Liability for Bacterial Infections

The negligent actions of one or more parties are often responsible for the transmission of foodborne bacterial infections. A personal injury attorney in Chicago can help determine whether the following common causes behind bacterial outbreaks are responsible:

  • The farmer who fails to properly harvest and transport crops, or slaughter meats in accordance with established guidelines.
  • The wholesaler who improperly stores food products prior to distribution.
  • A food processing facility that does not adhere to sterilization standards.
  • The grocery retailer who stores food products outside of established food safety rules and regulations.
  • Inspectors who fail to identify unsafe food handling procedures and/or malfunctioning equipment that can harbor harmful bacteria.