Increasing Number of Food Poisoning Lawsuits Implicate Imported Foods:  The Trend Unlikely to Change Anytime Soon

Food Poisoning lawsuit
"More and more of the produce we eat is imported."

Food From Other Countries Pouring into U.S.

More and more of the food we eat comes for international food sources, such as recent shipments of sashimi-grade tune from India, frozen pomegranate arils from Turkey, and “slicer” cucumbers from Mexico.   There is a concurrent increase in the amount of food we export to feed others, such as the millions of pounds of chicken we sell annually to china.  At present, data show that imported food makes up nearly 20% of the food we consume, up from only 12% 20 years ago.  And this trend is likely to continue for a number of reasons.  (1) Large-scale operations prove to be the most profitable – such as one large region in Mexico specializing in cucumbers or chicken farms in the U.S. dominating the chicken market; (2) the need for fresh vegetables all-year-round, necessitating seasonal product from regions around the globe ad in both hemispheres; (3) food processing is cheaper in less-developed countries; and the sheer variety of foods that Americans have grown accustomed to.

While all of these factors favor increases in importation of food, these increases come at a time in which the U.S. government is pushing to lessen regulation, not strengthen it.  As it is, a very small portion of the food being imported is tested or inspected directly.  This means that the businesses that are importing the food have an obligation to make sure that what they are buying is safe for the consumer.  But this obligation often conflicts with a desire to save money by cutting corners or not requiring the proper testing of food before distributing it here in the U.S.  When standards are not maintained, people get sick and food poisoning lawsuits follow.

Number of Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Imported Food on the Rise

With the increase in imports comes the increase in a number of foodborne illness outbreaks linked to those outbreaks (as well as the number of related food poisoning lawsuits).  And while only about one-in-twenty outbreaks in America is traced back to a particular imported food, these outbreaks are often wide-spread and affect a large number of consumers.  This is because imported products are often distributed widely, unlike a localized outbreak the result of a sick worker coming to work at a restaurant of cafeteria.   Ass such, hundreds can be sickened before the source of an outbreak is determined, such as the Salmonella Poona outbreak linked to Mexican cucumbers sold throughout the U.S. – in most cases, sold in bulk and not labelled as originating in Mexico.

Complexities of Food Poisoning Lawsuits from Imported Items

Imported food also poses special legal challenges in prosecuting a food poisoning lawsuit.  Not only is the trace-back effort made more difficult, but isolating the breakdown in the safe handling of food implicates processes and regulatory enforcement in other nations.  A food poisoning lawsuit may also need to name a foreign defendant, which can complicate matter by raising issues of jurisdiction and serving a defendant.  And while experienced food poisoning lawyers are well-prepared to handle such challenges, these cases can drag on for years as domestic and international or foreign companies litigate responsibility.

If you or a loved one gets sick form food poisoning, we encourage you to seek medical attention if warranted, have a stool test performed, and report your illness to your local health department agency.  If you have questions concerning food poisoning or a food poisoning lawsuit, call the food poisoning lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates at 1-888-335-4901.



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