CONSUMER RIGHTS AND HOW TO HOLD THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY ACCOUNTABLE
How Do I Know if I Have a Food Poisoning Claim?
The first point of contact for most victims of food poisoning is their treating physician. Following a confirmation of an infection from salmonella, individuals are often contacted by a public health official. The mere fact that you have contracted salmonella creates a significant likelihood that you may have a food poisoning case. For instance, if a restaurant serves food contaminated with salmonella, you can conclude the restaurant did not prepare the food properly. Contaminated food should never be served to a customer. Likewise, if you eat peanut butter that is contaminated with salmonella, the manufacturer of the peanut butter most likely did not follow standard safety procedures to prevent contamination.
Under the law, food is treated like a product. Contaminated food is considered a defective product. Defective products should never be sold to the public for health and safety reasons.
While there may be a significant likelihood that you have a food poisoning case, proving it can be difficult and requires an extensive investigation. It is imperative to determine the source of the contamination. If the source cannot be determined you may be unable to pursue your case. This is the equivalent of having your car stolen when the police aren’t able to catch the thief.
Our attorneys recommend talking with an experienced food poisoning lawyer if you have contracted salmonella to discuss your options and help you determine whether or not you have a case.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have a Case?
First and foremost, focus on getting better. Your top priority with any illness should be your health. When you are able, record thoroughly all of the following for the days before your infection:
- What you ate;
- When you ate it;
- Where you ate it; and
- How it was prepared.
If health officials have not already contacted you, you may call them to prompt an investigation and to inquire whether other recent salmonella poisonings are reported in your geographical area. We also recommend contacting an experienced Oregon salmonella attorney to ensure the preservation of evidence and protect your rights.
How Do You Find and Prove the Source of the Salmonella Food Poisoning?
Proving the source of the contamination is of primary importance in a food poisoning case. Exposing the source usually involves partnerships between plaintiff’s attorneys and public-health officials, including from both local and state agencies and the federal Centers for Disease Control. Overall, health officials can amass considerable resources in this area, as follows:
- In a laboratory, scientists can make an examination at a molecular level to isolate the particular genetic type of salmonella that a person is infected with.
- Through a process known as pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), scientists create an electronic field that has the property of causing clumps of DNA molecules from bacteria to move and break apart. For each bacterial strain, breaking up of a molecular clump of DNA always produces a particular patterning of individuated DNA molecules.
- This resulting pattern of DNA molecules is unique to the DNA – the genetic identity – of the specific strain being tested. As a result, this unique pattern can be recognized in tests of stool-sample tests from other nearby victims of salmonellosis.
However, things are more difficult if other people don’t turn up in your geographical area with food-poisoning complaints. This kind of case takes more investigation by the attorney. As a result, the client’s memory about what, where and how the food is prepared becomes extremely important. When the client provides a full list of such locations, this is a good starting place for an investigation.
Who Is the Typical Defendant in a Salmonella Case?
Defendants in a salmonella claim could be the manufacturer of food, a restaurant, a supermarket, or even a social host providing food to their guests. Defendants that are in the business of selling food would be pursued under a strict-liability defective product theory – contaminated food is a defective product. Defendants that are not in the business of selling food would be pursued using a common law negligence claim.
Experienced salmonella attorneys are eager to have an opening conversation free of charge with you on your case.