When you think of the term product, do you think of food? You should, because food is a product, and it can be defective. It can come with a contagion, be improperly packaged, exposed to the elements, or contain a substance it was not originally advertised to include. These can all put someone at risk of injury, illness, and even death depending on the circumstances. Because food is produced and sold en masse, there can be massive food recalls to stop the spread.
Food recalls are more common than you think. There were about 47 recalls involving 15 million pounds of food in 2021, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There has been an increase in food recalls in the few years because farms, manufacturers, shippers, and retailers haven’t been taking the proper precautions that should be taken.
If you have been affected by a defective food product, contact the product liability attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. We can understand the complexities of food recall cases.
Widespread recalls make national news, but food recalls have become so commonplace that there are likely many that few people know about. That makes the ones that you do hear about stand out even more. We wanted to touch on the ones that you may have heard about so you can become familiar with what food recalls look like and the dangers they impose.
Hallmark/Westland was a meatpacking company based in California that had what is still considered to be the largest beef-related recall in the United States. More than 143 million pounds of beef had to be recalled because they were caught slaughtering and packaging beef from cows that the FDA had not properly checked and that showed signs of illness.
This was during a time when Mad Cow Disease was fresh on people’s minds, so the company was quickly pressured into this massive recall which led to an investigation into their practices. Thankfully, despite the large recall, injuries related to the recall were either low in number from the lack of reporting or not at all. The government eventually fined the now-defunct company for its illegal practices.
Salmonella is a common but dangerous bacteria. It can’t be eliminated in all foods, and even foods that are safe to eat, like meat and eggs, are acknowledged to possibly have salmonella. But salmonella is accepted because it can be killed by cooking it at a high temperature.
There is a limit, however, and Iowa-based Wright County Egg found it. Their eggs had a high concentration of salmonella, to the point that even after cooking, there were still people suffering from salmonella poisoning. There were over 1,000 reports of illness, but thankfully no deaths after this event.
If you were one of these people, you could have sued for the lost wages, medical bills, and injuries inflicted on you by salmonella poisoning.
Humans aren’t the only ones who are at risk of food recalls. Our beloved pets can be hurt by them too. One of the largest food recalls in the United States was for pet food.
Pet food usually has what is called adulterants, which are substances that secretly mix and compromise the effectiveness or safety of the intended substance. These are not added intentionally, but in 2007, the at-the-time largest wet dog and cat food maker released pet food with wheat gluten that contained melamine.
Melamine is an industrial chemical used for making plastics, not something you want to give your dog or cat. Over 90 brands of dog and cat food were affected, with over 10,000 complaints from pet owners and at least 14 deaths. The manufacturing companies responsible and Menu Foods ended up being fined by the United States.
In an instance like this, it wouldn’t have been possible to sue for personal injury. While we love our pets like family, legally, they are property, which means if something similar were to happen to your pet, you could sue for property damage, which our attorneys could help you figure out.
The first thing you should do is see a doctor to find out what is making you sick. A medical professional should be able to determine what is causing your illness and if it was something you ate. You should then make sure to check the news and talk to an attorney. Even if this is a one-off instance, you may have a personal injury case depending on the severity of your injury. If your injury is part of a major recall, you stand to gain a large compensation.
It’s important to pay attention in case you’re sick, are feeling strange symptoms, and/or are diagnosed with food poisoning. You may be the victim of the next famous food recall and go uncompensated simply because you didn’t know.
If you believe you have been hurt by a food recall and its defective food product, contact the product liability attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. We can consult with you about your case and determine what kind of case you have.