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What Legal Recourse Do I Have If I Get Food Poisoning?

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Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC
5001 Seminary Road, Suite 110
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 703-370-8088
Fax: 703-370-1714

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the commonwealth of Virginia has over 25,000 establishments licensed to serve food to the public. Ranging from mobile food trucks frequenting worksites to the most elegant restaurants, each is subject to standards of sanitation and quality as defined by the VDH.

While food establishments usually have goals in accordance with the desires of the consumer, (i.e. to serve safe and good tasting food creating the return of customers,) inevitably some food will prove harmful.

Foreign/Natural Test

While eating cherries, one must be aware of the presence of pits within. This is the concept behind the doctrine used by Virginia in determining whether liability arises out of the presence of harmful materials in food.

The test simply determines whether the harmful material appearing on a plate is foreign to the food or a naturally occurring part of it, despite the fact that the material should not be present in the plate of prepared and served food.

To illustrate, consider a bowl of chicken soup served at a restaurant. If a consumer chokes on a chicken bone in the soup, the bone is considered to be natural to the chicken soup. In other words, the bone is a naturally occurring part of the chicken used to make the soup. It is reasonable that, despite efforts to the contrary, every so often a chicken bone will find its way into a bowl of chicken soup served. The consumer in this case, will be considered to have assumed the risk of coming across a bone while eating a bowl of chicken soup, and will have no legal recourse for choking on a chicken bone in a bowl of soup, but rather, should employ initial vigilance to prevent it.

On the other hand, if a pebble is present in a bowl of chicken soup, this represents an obvious breach of the duty of restaurant workers to ensure quality and safety of the food prepared. A pebble is not a natural part of one of the ingredients of chicken soup, and its presence within can occur only out of negligence of the duty to prepare safe and healthy food.

Harm Caused By Contaminated Food

Despite the most diligent of efforts, errors might sometimes occur during the process of preparation and food might sometimes carry harmful bacteria such as Ecoli and salmonella. The presence of these pathogens can arise out of improper cooking procedures, contact with raw meats, or contact with surfaces recently making contact with raw meats. It can also emerge from improper storage of foods.

Foreign objects in food can cause immediate choking as well as harm to the digestive tract after being swallowed.

The presence of harmful germs or foreign matter in food served in licensed establishments is often the result of failure to comply with regulatory procedures as enforced by the VDH, and can create civil liability.

Seek Legal Assistance

If you or a loved one has suffered injury or illness as a result of contaminated food, protect your rights. Demand compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Contact the Kamerow Law Firm, PLLC at (703) 370-8088 for a free and confidential initial consultation.