The Importance of Food Safety

Humankind has long appreciated the concept of food safety - from the specific types of food we eat to the methods in which they are produced, transported, cleaned, stored, prepared, and served. Religious and other ancient texts demonstrate that the issue existed even in antiquity.

Governments also took an active role long ago. For example, in 1202, King John of England proclaimed the Assize of Bread and Ale, which governed the quality (as well as weight and price) of beer and bread sold to others.

Today, people and entities producing, selling, and serving food must take great care to maintain food safety, including compliance with many laws and regulations designed to keep us safe. A failure to do so can result in illness and death to those who consume unhealthy food.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of food safety, as well as the rights of those who suffer personal injury and death due to food poisoning resulting from the negligent or intentional acts of others.

The Scope of the Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 48 million people get sick every year from eating contaminated food. Another 128,000 people are hospitalized, while approximately 3,000 people die yearly.

In 2016, Becker’s Hospital Review cited a CDC publication and labeled food safety as one of the ten most important public health concerns. In 2019, the CDC still lists food safety among its “10 important public health problems and concerns.”

Moreover, the CDC identifies food safety as a public health problem in Oregon, noting that “contaminated foods continue to challenge the public health system.” The issue is important enough that September is now identified as Food Safety Education Month.

Holding Wrongdoers Accountable

The Food Supply Chain

Food can be contaminated with germs that make us sick in a variety of ways. For example, farmers, wholesalers, or others in the food supply chain can fail to maintain clean and sanitary procedures. Those who store foods, such as distribution centers and grocery stores, can fail to maintain appropriate temperatures or inappropriately maintain cleanliness standards.

Restaurant Food Safety

Most people have seen the health grades posted on restaurant walls and recognize that governments impose numerous food safety regulations on restaurants. These grades are based upon compliance with many standards that are imposed to keep food safe and patrons healthy. When a restaurant negligently fails to comply with these standards, serious illness and death can result.

Food Safety Regulations

When a person suffers personal injury as a result of unsafe food, the law will hold wrongdoers accountable. 2017 Oregon Revised Statutes 616.215 specifically prohibits the manufacture, sale, delivery, holding, or offering for sale any misbranded or adulterated food.

Moreover, common law negligence principles require those in the food production chain to exercise reasonable care. For example, many people have heard horror stories of someone who ingested insect or animal parts that were negligently allowed to enter into or remain in a food product.

Those who negligently allow such actions to harm a customer can be held liable, and injured victims can recover damages. This is true for all types of food poisoning which violate the law.

Call with Questions

Please call us with any questions you have about injuries or illness caused by unsafe food. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer them for you. Our attorneys are familiar with the applicable laws in Oregon that govern your rights. We know how to investigate food poisoning cases and can provide assistance if you need it.

We strongly believe that the only way to make all of society safer is to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions when they cause injury with their negligent or intentional acts.


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