By William Bill Hurst

More than 125,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and 3,000 people die from food borne illnesses each year according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Salmonella is the number one food contaminate causing nearly one-third of all food borne hospitalizations and deaths according to the CDC data. Salmonella is a bacterial disease that strikes the intestinal tract and thrives in the intestines of humans and animals.  Humans typically contract salmonella through contaminated food sources like eggs, poultry, and meat.  In addition, fresh fruits and vegetables may be sprayed or washed with salmonella tainted water.  The CDC closely tracks food borne illnesses in ten states to watch for food poisoning trends.  Its report for last year showed that the rates of food borne illnesses have been holding steady for the past five years and grilled chicken accounted for 45% of the outbreaks.  A diarrhea-causing bacteria called clostridium perfringens is commonly linked to poultry.  A more deadly bacteria called E-coli was most often linked to beef.  Norovirus a common bug most often spread by food handlers is frequently seen in leafy vegetables.

Typical symptoms of food poising include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhea that occurs suddenly (within 48 hours) after consuming a contaminated food or drink.  Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow.  World-wide diarrhea illnesses are among the leading causes of death.

There are more than 250 known diseases can be transmitted through food.  Many cases of food poisoning are not reported because people have suffered mild symptoms and recovered quickly.  Also, doctors do not test for a cause in every suspected case because it does not change the treatment or the outcome.  Therefore, the CDC statistics do not include a large percentage of food borne illnesses.  The known causes of food poisoning can be divided into two categories:  infection agents and toxic agents.  Infection agents include viruses, bacteria and parasites while toxic agents include poisonous foods such as mushroom, improperly prepared exotic foods, or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.  The most common bacteria in food includes staphylococcus (found in salad, dressings, ham, eggs, custard-filled pastries, mayonnaise, and potato salad) and salmonella found in poultry, beef, eggs and dairy products or E-coli found in undercooked hamburger, raw milk and contaminated water.

Unlike many diseases food borne illnesses is entirely preventable. If these dangerous bacteria were purple colored, restaurants employees would clean the product better because people would see the purple colored stains but because they are invisible food preparers are failing in their obligation to the public.

Various food distributors have recently recalled various products.  In North Carolina vegetable and fruit distributor recently recalled cucumbers in nine states including Indiana after cucumbers distributed were found contaminated with salmonella.  A total of 5,000 pounds of potentially harmful cucumbers were distributed in Indiana and Illinois alone.,0,3354219.story

Another company in Raleigh, North Carolina is currently recalling cucumbers because it had the potential of being contaminated with salmonella.  This apparently was successfully done without causing illness to the population.

Restaurant retail establishment food distributors have a duty to you, the consumer to keep their products in a reasonably safe condition.  Failure to do so could expose them to civil liability.

If you or someone that you know has been the victim of food borne illness or any form of product defect, please call the office of William “Bill” Hurst, an attorney who is experienced in making this type of claim.  You can also visit