Many of our fellow Americans suffer from food allergies, and some even face life-threatening reactions. When you’re out at a restaurant or consuming your favorite food, the last thing you should worry about is whether or not it will make you sick. For some, such incidents can even be fatal. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Whether you are the victim of food allergy or food poisoning, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC can help you pursue a claim against the responsible party and get the compensation you deserve.
When it comes to food allergies, some products may contain common allergens, but companies mislabel them -if they label them at all. These allergens sometimes find their way into the product through cross-contact. Restaurants may also fail to take the necessary precautions to prevent cross-contact, putting you at risk of a severe reaction. Food poisoning can last for a few hours or days, but it is neither innocent nor harmless. Contaminated food with bacteria -oftentimes lethal- due to poor handling is unfortunately not an uncommon scenario.
What Is A Food Allergy
A food allergy is the body’s reaction to specific substances found in food. Specifically, these substances -known as allergens- attack the immune system, and its reaction can range from mild to severe, even fatal. A mild allergic reaction includes itchiness, usually near the mouth cavity, ears, or throat; swelling of the face; itchiness and rash; vomiting. In severe food allergies, the individual experiences anaphylactic shock, which demands immediate treatment. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, extreme swelling of the tongue and speaking impairments, fainting, or dizziness.
What Is Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is a foodborne disease caused by contaminated food, in which various bacteria (some lethal) may have developed due to poor handling of food. Examples of food poisoning bacteria and infections include E.Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Mercury, Cronobacter, Listeria, Botulism, and Hepatitis A.
Food poisoning symptoms manifest almost instantaneously or in a matter of a few hours/days, but they usually go away relatively soon, even without treatment, depending on the case. However, consulting with a physician is highly recommended.
Symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain (including cramps), fever and chills, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Although seeking a doctor’s advice is recommended, some symptoms may subside on their own soon enough. It is advised that you drink plenty of fluids and rest. After feeling better, light, small meals are recommended.
Since symptoms are similar for food allergy and food poisoning, it can be hard to distinguish them. Look at the following table for distinguishing information between the two conditions.
|Food Allergy||Food Poisoning|
|Caused by allergens, which are natural substances in foods, e.g., nuts.||Caused by food contaminated with bacteria.|
|Skin rash, tongue/lip swelling, breathing difficulties.||Acute abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.|
|Treatment rests on avoiding foods you know you are allergic to.||Treatment is available, but it can pass after a short time, and you can go back to eating all foods.|
Is A Restaurant Responsible?
Food poisoning can be hard to diagnose because its symptoms resemble those of flu and other common stomach viruses. However, if food poisoning is diagnosed, it may be difficult to prove that a restaurant is responsible because symptoms may not manifest for days.
If you can pinpoint the origin of your food poisoning to a specific restaurant, you need to consider that restaurants undergo vigorous checks regarding sanitation and safety. Many state and federal laws must be upheld to ensure standards for food consumption safety. Any breaching of these standards means that the restaurant can be liable for your food poisoning, so the restaurateur may be the only one from whom you can demand compensation, even if it was an employee that made an error or the restauranteur’s purposeful violation of sanitation laws.
In many cases, though, the restaurant is neither negligent nor violating any laws, and food temperatures, cooking conditions, and sanitation guidelines are followed meticulously. This may implicate the restaurant’s supply chain, e.g., the producer of certain foods provided to the restaurant that may have been contaminated with bacteria.
Determining who is responsible for your food poisoning means investigating the entire food chain, from farm to table. This may be an arduous task, though, one that an experienced food poisoning attorney can assist with.
Restaurants have a higher level of responsibility towards their patrons regarding food allergies. The restaurant must be aware of common allergens and inform customers of food ingredients. If your food allergy was caused by something you consumed at a restaurant, it might be negligence on the part of the restaurant, and you may be entitled to compensation. Still, you may need to prove that your food allergy was indeed caused by what you consumed at the restaurant.
How A Lawyer Can Help?
Food allergies and food poisoning lawsuits can be tricky because accurately tracking the origin of the allergic reaction or poisoning is hard. Here at Napoli Shkolnik, our expert food allergy and food poisoning lawyers can assist you in understanding all the legal grounds for a lawsuit -if applicable- and guide you through the filing process.
Pursuing compensation is a good idea if you reasonably believe that a restaurant’s malpractice caused your food allergy or food poisoning. Our experienced food allergy and food poisoning lawyers will review your case and advise you on the best legal course of action. With our help, you can maximize the amount of your potential settlement and focus on your recovery.