Who’s Liable if I Get Food Poisoning?

Food that is contaminated with dangerous bacteria is a serious problem. In fact, just recently, snack foods like Ritz crackers, swiss rolls, and Goldfish crackers—foods that are not typically associated with foodborne illnesses–were recalled for potential salmonella contamination. Of course, these recalls were both preceded and followed by recalls of salads and lettuces. Indeed, early in 2018 there was a multistate outbreak of E. coli in romaine lettuce, which infected 210 people across 36 states and took the lives of five.  

When food is contaminated and consumers get sick, there are myriad questions that are raised, including who should be liable for consumers’ harm. If you’ve been sickened by what you believe to be contaminated food, here’s a look into what you need to know about liability—

Damages from Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be very serious. While mild cases of food poisoning may only result in gastrointestinal discomfort for a short amount of time, more severe cases can result in dangerous dehydration, fever, blood in stools, persistent diarrhea, and the need for hospitalization. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an estimated 48 million people are sicked as a result of a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and approximately 3,000 die each year. In addition to the obvious physical discomfort and potential for serious complications and death, those who get food poisoning may also suffer:

  • High medical bills;
  • Lost wages; and
  • Emotional anguish and physical pain.

Who’s Liable?

When a person gets sick from eating contaminated food, it’s important that the source of contamination is identified and the individual is compensated for their losses. Theories of liability that pertain to foodborne illness cases include:


  • Negligence – You may bring forth a claim against a distributor of food that alleges the duty of care owed in food preparation, storage, recall, etc. was breached. For example, if you are sicked at a restaurant and the disease outbreak was the result of improper refrigeration, you can seek damages on the basis that your harm would not have occurred but for the restaurant’s failure to properly refrigerate the food.



  • Strict liability – Another theory is strict liability, under which one does not need to prove negligence. If you are bringing a claim based on strict liability, you are alleging that the product (food) you consumed was inherently defective and dangerous, and therefore the manufacturer of said product should be liable.


What Should I Do Now?

If you’ve been sickened as a result of eating contaminated food, you should seek medical care immediately. You should also take careful note of what you consumed and where – this can be helpful in identifying the source of contamination. Next, you need to call a skilled Revere personal injury lawyer who has experience pursuing food poisoning cases.

Reach Our Revere Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you get sick due to contaminated food, our aggressive foodborne illness lawyer will advocate for you. To schedule your free injury consultation with The Law Offices of Alan Hildreth King & Associates, call us at (781) 284-2900 or send us a confidential message today.