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Food Poisoning on Holiday: It’s Not Just Cheer That Spreads

Feasting with friends and family is one of the many celebrated holiday traditions. Although we tend to think of the winter holiday season as one where we spread family recipes, cheer and gifts, the truth is food poisoning on holiday in South Florida is unfortunately too common.

Of course, food poisoning can occur at any time, but our South Florida injury lawyers know some of the problems that can lead to foodborne illness during this otherwise festive time include:

  • Restaurants, grocery stores, cruise ships, hotels and food processing plants are extremely busy in the latter months of the year. This can lead to overlooking important sanitary guidelines for food safety.
  • Mail-order foods – especially meats, cheeses, fruits and seafood – can be especially hazardous if not properly packed, shipped, stored and delivered. These are popular items in gift baskets this time of year.
  • Holiday buffets, whether at restaurants, office parties or family gatherings can become breeding grounds for foodborne illness when food is left out for long stretches.
  • Amateur cooks (and sometimes even experienced ones) are rushed and sometimes fail to follow proper food prep safety.
  • Certain popular holiday foods, such as eggnog, turkey and even baked goods can be hazardous if not properly prepared or surfaces thoroughly cleaned.
  • Growers and distributors may not properly label “post-purge” dates on food items sold in stores and wholesale to restaurants.

Symptoms of a foodborne illness include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, aches, flu-like systems, and lethargy. Although most people can recover from food poisoning, those with compromised immune systems, children and the elderly may be especially vulnerable to developing serious complications. If you have fallen seriously ill as a result of food poisoning on holiday, contact our South Florida injury lawyers for information about your legal options. 

Food Poisoning on Holiday in the “Year of the Foodborne Illness”

People Magazine recently referred to 2018 as, “the Year of the Foodborne Illness.” As of late November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 22 outbreaks, including the high-profile E. Coli outbreak first reported last month and linked to romaine lettuce.

Other examples of foodborne illness include:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Dysentary
  • Cyrptosporidium
  • Norovirus

Part of the reason we’re seeing more food poisoning on holiday and overall this year has to do with the fact that we have improved reporting systems via the CDC. Government agencies are improving their tracking potential foodborne illness and connecting the dots when an outbreak does arise and more quickly tracing it back to the source. South Florida injury attorneys know this is good news for those of us seeking to hold negligent food manufacturers, processors and distributors accountable. Furthermore, health safety agencies are improving their public awareness portals to get information to the masses more expediently. It’s also helpful when one was exposed to the danger while on vacation, but may not have come down with symptoms until later.

If you have suffered from food poisoning on holiday in South Florida, you may have legal options against those responsible for:

  • Growing/ raising the food
  • Processing the food
  • Shipping the food
  • Storing the food
  • Preparing the food
  • Serving the food

These could be claims of negligence for unsafe food production or product liability claims for failure to ensure a product intended for public consumption was reasonably safe.

Those cooking the traditional meal (or sides) this year can avoid being the cause of food poisoning on holiday by:

  • Planning ahead. Ensuring there is enough safe storage space for foods that must be kept warm or cold, how long items will take to cook, etc.
  • Making sure to defrost poultry completely and using a digital thermometer to ensure meat and other foods are cooked through.
  • Keep foods out of danger zones by storing within two hours of preparation, keeping cooked foods at a warming temperature of between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit and ensuring foods to be transported are properly insulated for the trip.
  • Wash everything. Wash it again. This includes your hands, your produce (including lettuce and other pre-packaged greens), utensils and all surfaces. Everything except the turkey. Wash before, during and after food prep.
  • Be sure to avoid cross-contamination of foods, particularly raw meats, poultry, seafood and produce.

If you have additional questions about whether you may have a viable claim for compensation for food poisoning on holiday, our South Florida injury lawyers can provide some answers.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

The Other Holiday Shopping: Grocery Shopping, Dec. 1, 2014, USDA

More Blog Entries:

Suarez v. W.M. Barr & Co. – Product Liability Lawsuit to Proceed, Dec. 10, 2016, South Florida Injury Attorney Food Poisoning on Holiday Blog

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