Listeria is a bacteria that leads to a serious infection called listeriosis. Each year, around 300 deaths are caused due to listeria infection. The microbe is mostly found in raw vegetables and raw animal products such as cheese and meat.
WHO IS MOST AT RISK?
Children and healthy adults are less susceptible to listeria. Those who are at greater risk of listeriosis include:
- People with weak immune systems
- Expectant mothers
- People with illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and cancer
- Elderly people
- People with AIDS
SYMPTOMS OF LISTERIOSIS
- Muscle ache
- Stiffness in the neck
- Loss of balance
When public health authorities learn of listeria contamination, the contaminated food products are immediately removed from the market to avert a listeriosis outbreak. However, the recall of listeria-contaminated food is voluntary. The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are legally authorized to confiscate contaminated food products in the market.
CLASSIFICATIONS IN FOOD RECALLS
- Class I: Hazardous or adulterated food products that could potentially lead to serious health issues. Some of these include food with undeclared allergens or a label mix-up on a lifesaving drug.
- Class II: Food products that may lead to temporary health problems. For instance, a drug that is under-strength and is not used to treat life-threatening conditions.
- Class III: Food products that do not lead to any adverse health condition, but violate manufacturing laws. Examples include lack of labeling or packaging defect.
CAN WE FILE A LAWSUIT FOR FOOD POISONING?
Yes, anyone who suffers from listeriosis due to consumption of contaminated food can sue those who are liable. This may include a company or a store that serves such food. In such cases, a personal injury attorney could easily recover compensation for hospital bills, medical charges, loss of wages, and other damages.
MAJOR CHALLENGES IN FILING A FOOD POISONING LAWSUIT
There are some major challenges in pursuing a food poisoning lawsuit. People often become ill due to listeria contamination but identifying the exact culprit can turn out to be a difficult task. Secondly, it’s important to prove that someone is legally responsible or liable for the damage. Most importantly, a majority of the food poisoning cases are not serious enough to file a lawsuit. If there are multiple people suffering from listeria contamination due to consumption of a particular foodstuff, it gets easier to prove that the food was contaminated.
In case of severe illness, the victim may require hospitalization and expensive medical treatment. Thus, filing a lawsuit becomes worthwhile. Cases in which a person dies due to listeria contamination may warrant a wrongful death lawsuit and the surviving family members may seek to recover compensation for their losses.