Food Safety: What to do if you’ve eaten contaminated food

Even though it is a very common experience, food poisoning can be a serious matter. People who have consumed contaminated food can become seriously ill, thus losing wages, convenience, and other benefits they usually have. So, if you think you have eaten contaminated food that led to illness or injury, read on to see what to do and when to contact an attorney.

How Does Food Get Contaminated?

As much as we don’t want to think about it, there are many factors that can lead to contaminated food that results in food poisoning. Some even point to negligence on behalf of a restaurant or supplier. Despite popular belief, it’s not always a foreign substance that spoils food. Improper storage or handling can create problems all on their own. 

Here are some ways that food can become contaminated:

  • Food stored at improper temperatures
  • Food stored or handled in unclean or unsanitary conditions
  • Using dirty utensils or equipment to handle, prepare, or store food
  • Using rotten or spoiled ingredients
  • Using pesticides that are toxic or otherwise an irritant to humans
  • Not washing hands before handling or eating food
  • Lack of employee training on proper food handling, preparation, and storage
  • Foreign objects or biohazardous material in food

How Do I Know if I’ve Been Affected by Contaminated Food?

Most signs and symptoms of food poisoning and food contamination appear within hours after eating. Be on the lookout for:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • Extreme fatigue

Who Should I Contact?

There are different entities to contact, depending on where and how you ate contaminated food and how severe your illness or injuries were. For example, if you consumed contaminated food from a restaurant, you should notify both the restaurant and your local health department. If you believe the contamination to be serious or widespread, save some of the food so that the local health authorities can test it and investigate the contaminants. If you received and ate contaminated food from the grocery store such as poultry, meat, eggs, or produce, you will need to contact the store and notify either the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service or the Food and Drug Administration, depending on the product and source. 

If your illness or injuries led to extended hospital stays, high medical bills, loss of work or wages, loss of convenience, or pain and suffering, it is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney, especially one with experience in food contamination cases. Be sure to save any receipts or bills and document the food contamination as thoroughly as possible. 
If you or someone you know has been impacted by negligence in food service or otherwise in Washington state, reach out to us today for a free consultation.