food-borne-illnessesThe most recent multi-state salmonella poisonings highlight the importance of safe food handling and preparation techniques. The most recent outbreak has been tied to ground beef produced by two companies who have been responsible for nearly 1,000lbs of recalled meat in the last week. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 16 people who have become ill after eating the contaminated meat, 9 of which required hospitalization.

Food poisoning, as a result of improper food preparation and improper food handling techniques can cause a wide variety of physical complaints ranging from annoying and inconvenient, like an upset stomach, to serious and life threatening, like severe dehydration. Luckily, the most recent outbreak has not resulted in any loss of life, but that isn’t always the case. Individuals with weakened immune systems often suffer more serious reactions from salmonella exposure or other food contaminants.

For attorneys that handle food borne illness claims, working with an expert witness that specializes in food borne illnesses can make these types of cases much easier to handle and resolve. As with all tort cases, the attorney must prove that the responsible party had a duty to the injured party, failed in that duty and their failure was the cause of the injuries suffered by the claimant. A food safety expert can help provide the important links you need to prove your case and can connect the dots between the responsible party, the contaminated item and the injuries the claimant suffered.

Most expert witnesses in this field have extensive food science experience and can help the attorneys, clients and juries understand how contamination occurs and can be prevented. They can also explain how these contaminants cause injuries and illness. If you are handling food borne illness cases, it is prudent to carefully select your expert early in the case, as they can help provide the information needed to quickly resolve your client’s claim.

By: Mary Wenzel, J.D.