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Salmonella Scare Raises Concerns About Food Safety

StomachacheRecently, the popular grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s, issued a press release stating that some of the nuts in their bags of cashews had possibly been contaminated with salmonella. Fortunately, no illnesses have been linked to consumption of the cashews, but the store has removed all of the products from its shelves and urges customers to throw theirs away or bring them in for a full refund in order to prevent food poisoning.

Foodborne Illness

Also commonly referred to as food poisoning, foodborne illness encompasses a range of maladies caused by any of a variety of different pathogens, including bacteria, parasites, and viruses. There are at least 250 recorded types of food poisoning.


Because there are so many types of food poisoning, there are also a variety of symptoms that can afflict someone who has contracted a food-related illness, including:

  • Stomach cramps;
  • Vomiting;
  • Nausea;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Fever; and
  • Dehydration.

In serious cases, food poisoning can require prolonged hospital stays and cause long-term damage. Amongst vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and those without access to medical aid, food poisoning can even cause death.


Food or beverages can become contaminated at one of many different points in the production chain. For instance, fruits and vegetables that were washed with unclean water may become contaminated. Alternatively, contamination may have taken place during a product’s preparation, through contact with unwashed hands or contaminated surfaces.


A few simple safety precautions can go a long way toward preventing food poisoning. Helpful precautions include:

  • Cooking at certain temperatures, which guarantees that contaminants are killed;
  • Cleaning fruits and vegetables before eating, and cleaning anything used in food preparation;
  • Separating raw foods from cooked products; and
  • Chilling certain types of foods in refrigerators at below 40 degrees. 
Food Poisoning and Personal Injury

In California, if a person is injured by a defective product, the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the product may be held strictly liable for any harm that occurs to the user. This theory applies to instances of food poisoning as well. However, a plaintiff will still need to prove that the defect was a substantial factor in causing the injury.

Alternatively, a person who gets food poisoning from a contaminated food product can seek damages under a theory of negligence. If the manufacturer or distributor failed to use reasonable care in production or delivery, and that negligent act was a substantial factor in causing the harm, the injured party may be able to recover for some of his or her losses. These damages could include medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Proving the causation element in a negligence claim against a grocery store or restaurant concerning food poisoning can be difficult, so an attorney’s advice and assistance is invaluable. If you or a loved one have contracted food poisoning and feel that someone may be at fault, please contact the passionate San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation today at (408) 289-1417.

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