Florida Personal Injury Attorney Asks: Can We Stop Deadly Food Outbreaks?

by Carmen Dellutri on October 18, 2011

Sarasota personal injury attorneyFirst, it was cantaloupe, and now it is lettuce. The recent outbreaks of food contamination have many of us concerned about the safety of our food. While most foodborne illnesses are mild, about 1 in 6 people in the United States get sick each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and about 3,000 die.

What Are Foodborne Outbreaks?

When two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink, the event is called a foodborne outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 outbreaks have been recorded so far this year.

Most recently, cantaloupes, from Jensen Farms in Colorado, have been associated with 18 deaths and 100 illnesses across 20 states. It is the deadliest outbreak of a foodborne illness in the United States for more than a decade.

On the heels of the bacteria-tainted cantaloupes, the FDA announced last week that True Leaf Farms in California recalled 90 cartons of chopped romaine lettuce due to possible contamination from Listeria. The recall was announced after a sample taken as part of a random check from a single bag of lettuce tested positive for Listeria. Thankfully, no illnesses have been reported so far.

What Can Be Done?

In many cases, deadly food outbreaks are traced back to lax health and safety procedures by food suppliers. To address this problem, the Food Safety Modernization Act was enacted earlier this year; in essence, it makes clear that people and businesses that provide food to the public, whether they produce, process, transport, or sell food, are responsible for taking the steps necessary to ensure that they've identified and controlled hazards that could make food unsafe.

More specifically, the law directs the FDA to issue a rule requiring comprehensive preventive controls for most food processing facilities. In addition, it also provides the FDA with new inspection and enforcement tools to ensure that companies are carrying out their responsibilities and to keep contaminated products from reaching store shelves.

Finally, earlier this month, the FDA announced a new team designed to improve how the government responds to food safety concerns. According to the agency, the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network will be dedicated to responding quickly to foodborne illness outbreaks and improving prevention efforts.

As detailed in the FDA press release, the CORE Network’s activities “will learn from outbreaks to develop preventive systems, in an effort to reduce them from happening in the future.”

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by eating contaminated food, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys for a free consultation. 

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