Consumers have a right to the expectation of safety in the foods they purchase and eat. When a food recall occurs, it can be unsettling, and in some cases cause serious health problems. Food recalls often make news when they are on a large scale and affect thousands of customers.
When people ingesting a contaminated food product are sickened and unaware of the cause until others are impacted, an investigation begins. Legally, this is a matter of products liability.
Recalls in the News
Two large meat product recalls in late 2018 made headlines, not long after a major romaine lettuce contamination. With the scale of these recent food recalls, many consumers across the United States have questions about the safety of the food they purchase and eat every day – and what they can do to be prepared.
One recent meat contamination case involved over 12 million pounds of beef potentially contaminated with salmonella, which sickened people across 26 states. The number of confirmed illnesses in less than three months was nearly 250 people and rising.
Salmonellosis in humans causes diarrhea, cramps and stomach distress, and fever. It can last up to seven days. Most people sickened by salmonella recover without long term health affects; but a more severe risk is for consumers who are ill or immuno-compromised, as well as infants and the elderly.
In another recent publicized case, Jimmy Dean sausages were discovered to have pieces of metal in the product. Once the metal was found, a recall was issued to cover nearly 30,000 packaged pork and poultry sausage products.
Both of these cases illustrate the seriousness of food safety and the scale of the effects.
Who is Responsible for Food Safety?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal agency responsible for food safety through the Food Safety and Inspection Service division. When an illness or contamination is suspected, the agency investigates, and can trace the source of the product through the USDA mark of inspection all products contain. The agency issues health alerts in food recall cases and notifies facilities like grocery stores who carry the products.
Consumers who have products that are on the recall list should discard them.
In the case of foodborne illness, the USDA recommends consumers undertake routine food safety steps to prevent the risk of illness. Raw meat products carry the risk of salmonella; but heating to a high enough temperature kills the bacteria. The USDA advises careful handling of meat products and preventing raw meat and liquids from coming into contact with other foods, as well as sanitizing utensils and cutting boards thoroughly.
When cooking ground meat, the recommended internal temperature to kill bacteria is 160 degrees, which can be assessed using a meat thermometer. Other meats have recommended internal cooking temperatures which can be found on the USDA website.
USDA Consumer Tools
The USDA website lists procedures for each type of suspected food contamination and the product and purchase information that consumers will need to provide.
For anyone who is concerned about a contaminated food product that has caused serious illness, the advice of a Philadelphia products liability lawyer is strongly recommended.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Have the Experience to Help Clients with Claims
A Philadelphia products liability lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC has experience advocating for those harmed by damaged or contaminated products. We represent clients in Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, and throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Please contact us for an initial consultation at 215-569-8488 or complete our online form.