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Articles Posted in Food Recalls

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food-healthy-dinner-lunch-128401-300x200Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that La Bodega Meat is recalling over 80,000 pounds of raw beef products. According to the press release, the products did not receive a re-inspection when entering the United States. Individuals can suffer severe injuries if they consume recalled meat in Texas. These individuals should seek medical attention and legal assistance if they experience adverse reactions to defective food products.

The recalled beef products included ribeye rolls, flank steaks, boneless brisket, inside skirt, flap meat, sirloins, peeled knuckle, rounds, and other similar meat pieces. The meat entered the United States in early June and was shipped to distributors in Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas. Although there have not been any confirmed cases of serious adverse reactions, the FSIS believes that some products may still be frozen in distributors’, retailers’, and other customers’ freezers. Distributors, retailers, and consumers are urged not to distribute, sell, or consume these products.

The USDA classifies recalls into three classes, Class I, Class II, and Class III. Class I recalls, such as the one above, are reserved for products that may cause a severe health hazard, and there is a high probability that using the product will result in serious health consequences such as death. Class II recalls occur in situations where the product presents a remote likelihood of an adverse health consequence. Finally, Class III recalls are issued when the product will not cause serious adverse health consequences.

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close-up-photo-of-green-leafed-plants-1213859-scaledIndividuals who suffer a food borne illness in Texas may be able to recover for their damages against the company, restaurant, or grocery store who sold or distributed the contaminated food. Food poisoning is any illness that is the result of eating food that is contaminated with bacteria, toxins, or other pathogens. In some cases, these stomach illnesses are mild and can resolve relatively quickly; however, in other cases, they can have long-lasting consequences on a person’s health.

Studies from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that about 1 in 6 people in the United States suffer from food poisoning every year. Although many different food products can lead to food poisoning, spinach, beef, chicken, and peanut butter, are more frequently associated with outbreaks. Moreover, many restaurants engage in unsafe and unsanitary food processing and handling behaviors that may increase the likelihood of food poisoning. Individuals who suffer exposure may contract salmonella poisoning, Hepatitis A, E. coli, Listeria, and the Norovirus. These diseases and illnesses often cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, fatigue, and vomiting. It can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable individuals such as young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with compromised immune systems. In many instances, contaminated food can lead to widespread outbreaks.

For example, the Justice Department recently charged Chipolte, a popular Mexican chain fast-food restaurant, with “adulterating food while held for sale.” The company agreed to pay a $25 million fine to resolve criminal charges that they were facing for selling contaminated food. Chipolte admitted that they served tainted food between 2015 and 2018, which resulted in over 1,000 people falling sick with the Norovirus. The company stated that the foodborne illness was likely the result of unsafe food handling by their employees. In response to the illnesses, the company revamped its food safety policies and procedures to limit the likelihood of food poisoning.

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According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of October 17, 2013, a total of 338 individuals from 20 states and Puerto Rico have been infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farm’s Chicken. Forty percent of those infected have been hospitalized, with approximately 75 percent of the victims residing in California. Nine ill persons have been identified in Texas. Salmonella Heidelberg is the country’s third most common strain of Salmonella, which can result in foodborne illness if not destroyed by proper cooking and safe handling. Notably, this is not the first time in recent months that the CDC has reported an outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg. In July 2013, the CDC reported that 134 individuals had been infected with the same strain also linked to Foster Farm’s chicken.

Earlier this month, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) issued a public health alert due to concerns that illness caused by Salmonella Heidelberg was associated with chicken products produced at three Foster Farm’s facilities in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thereafter threatened to shut down these facilities, citing a risk to public health. While Foster Farms has not initiated a recall, the company is complying with the USDA’s requests to mitigate issues at the facilities tied to the outbreak. The investigation by the USDA-FSIS is ongoing.

How to know if you’ve been infected

The symptoms of the illness caused by Salmonella include high fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. While most of all persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps (usually within 12 to 72 hours after infection) that require little medical treatment, if any, some elderly individuals, infants, and those with impaired immune systems can suffer severe illnesses or death. The outbreak strains involved in these cases are resistant to several commonly described antibiotics, which means there may be an increased risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

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On August 12, 2013, Taylor Farms de Mexico officially informed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) that it had voluntarily suspended shipment of all salad mixes, including iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrots from its operations in Mexico to the United States, as of August 9, 2013. Taylor Farms de Mexico will not resume shipments or production of these products from its operations in Mexico until it receives FDA approval. In the meantime, officials from the FDA and Taylor Farms will conduct an environment assessment of the Taylor Farms processing facility in Mexico to determine the probable cause of the outbreak.

Taylor Farms de Mexico is a division of the California-based produce supplier Taylor Farms whose greens go to various restaurant chains, including Olive Garden and Red Lobster. Notably, it is believed that these products have not been sold directly to consumers. According to NBC News, Taylor Farms de Mexico is responsible for shipping salad mixes tainted with parasites that have sickened hundreds of individuals in Nebraska and Iowa. At this point, the FDA and Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) are still investigating whether Taylor Farms’ bagged salad is also tied to the cyclospora outbreak that sickened more than 535 individuals nationwide in 18 states, including Texas, over the past several months. In fact, as of August 12, 2013, there were 215 cyclospora outbreak cases reported in Texas alone. Unfortunately, unlike the outbreaks in Nebraska and Iowa for which health officials have traced the source of the outbreak, authorities in Texas have failed to find a common source for the sickness thus far.

According to the FDA, cyclospora is a parasite too small to be seen without a microscope that causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. The cyclospora parasite is acquired by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the cyclospora parasite. Since cyclospora needs days, and sometimes even weeks, after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious for another person, it is unlikely that it will be passed to individuals that have not directly ingested the parasite. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps and fever.

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Easter can be a time for fun, great food, candy, little toys, and Easter egg hunts. However, certain safety issues arise each Easter. Specifically, from a food safety standpoint, Easter can be the single most dangerous holiday. To help ensure a safe Easter for all Texans this year, follow the safety tips provided below.

Candy & Toy Safety

Easter baskets are a big part of Easter. However, certain gifts inside these baskets may create safety hazards. To prevent choking, the University of Texas at San Antonio Police Department recommends refraining from putting the following candy and food in Easter baskets: (1) hard, round candy; (2) thick and/or sticky candy; (3) candy with nuts; (4) caramel; (5) sour candy; and (6) jaw breakers. Since children’s airways are higher and narrower than an adult’s, these candies can create a choking hazard.

Along those same lines, make sure that all Easter toys and dolls are free of choking hazards before placing them inside any Easter basket. In addition, as the fake grass often used in Easter baskets is not easily digestible, it is important to keep it away from young children. Finally, some children have nut allergies that are very serious, so be sure to check with parents before offering chocolate bunnies or other candies that may contain nuts. To protect those children with peanut allergies, be careful to read the label of contents of any chocolate included in the baskets. Even though many packages read “pure chocolate,” the chocolate may have been in contact with nuts or peanuts during their preparation or packaging.

Egg Safety

Many Easter celebrations involve Easter egg hunts. Although eggs are nutritious and a big part of this holiday celebration, it is important to remember that unbroken, clean, fresh shell eggs may contain Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. In order to ensure that your children remain safe this Easter there are some important safe handling methods to remember when preparing, decorating, cooking or hiding Easter eggs.

First, when purchasing your eggs, always purchase from a refrigerated case. In addition, don’t buy out-of-date eggs and be sure to choose eggs with clean and uncracked shells. Eggs should be refrigerated as soon as possible after purchase. Once you bring your eggs home, they should be kept in their carton and placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door. Raw in-shell eggs can be kept in the refrigerator a maximum of three to five weeks.

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Last month, Burch Farms in North Carolina issued a recall of nearly 14,000 cases of cantaloupes due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Initially, only 580 cases of cantaloupe were recalled. According to the nation’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the larger recall was issued following an Agency inspection that noted unsanitary conditions in the company’s melon packing area.

The recall was later expanded to include all cantaloupes and honeydew melons grown or distributed by Burch Farms during the 2012 season after the FDA found evidence of the bacteria that causes Listeriosis on honeydew melons sold by the company. The recalled melons were reportedly shipped to Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Exposure to Listeria monocytogenes may potentially cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. People who are most vulnerable to getting sick from Listeriosis include pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and anyone who suffers from a weakened immune system. Symptoms of infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Although no illnesses associated with the Burch Farms recall have been reported, it can take several weeks before Listeriosis symptoms become apparent.

Last year, a Listeriosis outbreak that was traced to allegedly unsanitary conditions at a Colorado farm sickened 147 individuals in at least 28 states. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 33 victims died as a result of eating cantaloupes grown or processed by Jensen Farms. Additionally, one pregnant woman allegedly miscarried as a result of contracting Listeriosis from consuming contaminated cantaloupe. The contaminated cantaloupe sold by Jensen Farms reportedly caused the worst food-borne illness outbreak in the United States in approximately 100 years. The company is currently facing numerous lawsuits over the Listeriosis outbreak.

Potential food-borne illness lawsuits are currently being evaluated throughout the United States. If you suffered a serious illness such as Listeriosis, or your loved one died as a result of eating contaminated food, you are advised to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal right to recover damages.

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