Food Contamination and Poisoning
Americans love to eat out. Between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, many of us avoid spending the time and energy to prep, cook, and clean up after a home cooked meal, instead opting for the ease and convenience of dining in or getting takeout from one of our favorite restaurants. There are many numbers of factors to consider before choosing a place to get a meal: the location, price, and atmosphere of the restaurant, the style and variety of food, and the speed and quality of the service. In making the choice of where to eat, one important factor that is frequently overlooked regards the food safety practices under which a restaurant cooks and serves food. Injuries due to food contamination and poisoning are an area of concern than many people don’t tend to think about. Foodborne bacteria and improper food handling techniques are usually back-of-the-house issues in restaurants that aren’t easy to detect, but there’s no mistaking the results. Food-related illnesses can end up causing serious injuries. Protect yourself by knowing how to spot the warning signs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, every year millions of people suffer from food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild stomach and digestive problems that resolve in a day or so, to severe cramping, vomiting, fever and dehydration requiring hospitalization, and are sometimes fatal. Common causes of food poisoning include:
- Bacteria and viruses: These are the most common causes of food contamination, and include salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and norovirus
- Parasites: In the U.S., the most common foodborne parasites include protozoa, roundworms, and tapeworms
- Mold, toxins, and contaminants: Mold can produce lethal toxins, and certain foods, such as mushrooms and puffer fish, contain natural toxins. Contamination can come from a variety of sources, including pesticides and poor food handling practices
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) conducts periodic inspections of all restaurants, grocery stores, delis, bakeries, and other food markets to ensure that food handling regulations are adhered to and federally regulated standards of food safety are met. Each establishment is graded and food sanitation and safety reports are issued. During inspections, DHEC grades establishments on the following:
- General facility cleanliness and sanitation
- Proper storage methods
- Proper cooling temperatures of freezers and refrigeration units
- Time and temperature controls for cooking
- Employee standards of cleanliness, including hand washing
- Preparation techniques, including no bare hands contact/wearing gloves for food prep
Any deviations from DHEC guidelines can result in food contamination, and illnesses and injuries to patrons. DHEC scores are posted at all S.C. establishments serving food; be sure and check the score of a restaurant before eating there.
Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been a victim of food poisoning or food contamination, contact Anastopoulo Law Firm. Our experienced South Carolina personal injury attorneys will fight to hold restaurant owners accountable for the serious illnesses, and help you to receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free review of your case.