In June 2014, several customers reported feeling ill after consuming food from a Chicago-area Jewel Osco grocery store. Suspecting a salmonella outbreak, the Cook County Department of Public Health was called. An investigation revealed that the outbreak may have started in the deli department. The deli department was ordered to close until all possible tainted meat was disposed of and all deli instruments and machines were cleaned. Customers were able to return any suspected food. This case highlights the scary nature of how quickly food borne illnesses can spread into the public. Fortunately, while most cases are small and quickly taken care of, unfortunately, these small outbreaks happen much more than is reported in the news. There are several types of food borne illnesses that are commonly spread:
- Salmonella- salmonella is a bacteria that is commonly found in defective foods. It typically affects about 42,000 people every year in the United States. Children are the most likely victims of the illness. Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. A chance of death is rare as antibiotics are generally prescribed. A severe case may take several months before the injured person feels completely normal.
Avoiding cross-contamination of meat and vegetables is recommended to keep the bacteria from spreading. It is also advised to clean instruments and surfaces before handling several different types of raw meat as well.
- E. Coli- most strains are typically harmless but there are some that cause illness. Symptoms include diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory problems, and possibly pneumonia. E. coli can spread not only through food and water, but also through contact with other persons or animals.
- Campylobacter- this bacteria is actually blamed for a higher percentage of food borne illnesses than salmonella. Symptoms can be severe and include vomiting and bloody diarrhea or there may be no symptoms at all. Recovery is usually within two to five days although more serious cases can turn into some forms of arthritis. Illness to humans usually comes from unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water and poultry. It is important to clean up after handling raw poultry as even a small amount of raw juice can cause illness.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.