We all love dining out. Sometimes we eat out as a necessity, such as a quick stop at a nearby drive through window during lunch hour. Other times, eating out is more of an event; maybe we gather the family for a meal at our favorite restaurant, or make reservations somewhere special for an intimate dinner with a loved one. For whatever the reason, many of us eat more meals outside the home than ever before. When choosing a place to dine, we may rely on reviews, or perhaps recommendations from friends. We might be swayed by the cultural appeal of the cuisine, or even the décor of the establishment. While the comfort and appearance of the dining area is important, what’s more important is what’s going on in the kitchen. Injuries due to food poisoning and foodborne illness affect millions of people each year. Food poisoning isn’t just an inconvenience. It can result in serious injuries with lasting effects. Here’s what you need to know about what is going on both locally and throughout the nation in terms of ensuring the food we eat is safe to consume.

Fish-Related Food Poisoning on the Rise

According to recent reports from the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, an increasing number of people have been affected by fish-related food poisoning, more than researchers had previously thought. While there are existing warnings concerning eating barracuda, recent warnings have added grouper, snapper, mackerel, and mahi mahi to the list, primarily those that are caught in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys. The fish carries the food borne toxin ciguatera, which can cause nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and long term tingling in the limbs. While researchers don’t advise people to quit eating these types of fish completely, they do advise that people watch for any symptoms, and see a physician at the first sign of illness.

Causes of Food Poisoning

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that millions of people become ill as the result of food poisoning each year. Symptoms range from nausea and digestive problems to vomiting, fever and dehydration severe enough to require hospitalization. Common causes of food poisoning include:

  • Bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella, e. coli, and norovirus;
  • Parasites, such as roundworms and tapeworms; and
  • Mold, toxins, and contaminants caused by pesticides and poor food handling practices.

Proper food safety practices can play a big part in minimizing the incidences of food poisoning, which may include:

  • General facility cleanliness and sanitation;
  • Proper storage methods;
  • Proper cooling temperatures of freezers and refrigeration units;
  • Time and temperature controls for cooking;
  • Employee standards of cleanliness, including hand washing; and
  • Preparation techniques, including no bare hand contact/wearing gloves for food prep.

The Florida Division of Food Safety (DVS) works to ensure the public has a safe food supply through food inspections and permitting at restaurants, as well as enforcing general food safety laws. To protect the public against food-borne illness, the DVS inspects restaurants to ensure all food items are stored and refrigerated properly and cooked at the proper temperatures. They also check for proper employee sanitation, such as frequent hand washing and wearing gloves for prep work. Restaurants falling below government standards can be fined and in some cases, shut down until food safety is brought to an acceptable standard.

Contact Hogan Frick Law

If you or a loved one has been a victim of food poisoning or food contamination, contact our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys. At Hogan Frick, with offices in Orlando, Gainesville, Ocala, Kissimmee, and Lakeland, we’ll fight for your rights and hold restaurant owners accountable. We help people just like you recover damages due to medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today for a free case review.