The FDA recently closed down an Erlinger, Kentucky food processing facility due to reports of the presence E. coli bacteria in a brand of soy nut butter manufactured by Dixie Dew Products, Inc. The nut butter, manufactured for I.M. Healthy, has been linked to E. coli outbreaks in 12 states this year, including California, negatively affecting approximately 29 people.
Defective food products fall under the category of defective product liability. According to the CDC, continuing to sicken people throughout the nation, most of whom are under the age of 18. At least 12 individuals have been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a serious type of kidney failure that can lead to death in some. Symptoms of E. coli sickness can begin between 2 and 8 days following consumption of the bacteria. Symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
At least four lawsuits have been filed against I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew since the outbreak.
Top Causes of Food Injuries
Illnesses caused by defective food can range from minor to severe poisoning that can lead to mild discomfort or even death. The most common causes of food injuries include:
- E. coli – this bacterium lives in the intestines of other animals. Infection can occur from contact with the feces of an infected animal.
- Botulism – commonly found in home-canning situations, botulism can also proliferate in commercial canning plants with improper safeguards.
- Norovirus – the leading cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. – can be caused when infected food preparers fail to wash their hands after coming into contact with their stool or vomit. Can also be found in oysters or other foods grown in contaminated water.
- Hepatitis – can be transmitted through food prepared by an infected person who has failed to wash their hands.
- Listeria – primarily associated with dairy products, hot dogs and deli meats, listeria can hide in just about any food.
- Shigella – can be spread through food that has come into contact with an infected source, such as ponds and lakes or from a person who has failed to follow basic hand washing and sanitation procedures.
Proving a Defective Food Case
Unsanitary conditions or improper food handling are the main causes of food injuries. In California, such handling can lead to claims of strict products liability in the handling of food. In order to prevail in a suit against someone for this type of claim, you must prove that food was defective and unreasonably dangerous and that the food caused your injury. A plaintiff does not have to prove failure of reasonable care in California.
If you are injured by defective food, you may have the ability to bring a claim against anyone in the chain of distribution. This includes:
Defective food injuries can be serious. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective food product, contact the products liability attorneys at J&Y law firm for a free consultation.