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What happens if I suspect foodborne illness?

Foodborne illnesses are quite common, even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other entities do their best to prevent such consumer illnesses. Foodborne illnesses are preventable health issues that cause an estimated 3,000 deaths per year in the United States. What happens if you suspect foodborne illness?

If you suspect a foodborne illness has affected you, the first thing that must be done is the preservation of evidence. The evidence will be key to any legal case you bring against the restaurant, food manufacturer, grocery store or other entity. For instance, if some of the "suspect" food is still available, package it immediately and put it in a freezer. If you have the packaging for the food, save that as well. If you have identical unopened products, save these items too.

Seek medical treatment, if necessary. You might not require medical treatment, but some foodborne illnesses can become so severe that hospitalization is required. If you experience excessive diarrhea, vomiting, high fever, nausea or bloody diarrhea you should visit your doctor immediately.

The local health department should be notified as soon as you suspect a foodborne illness. The health department will need to know where the food was served. This includes if it happened at a large gathering, at a restaurant or if it was a commercial product you purchased and made at home.

The USDA meat and poultry hotline should also be notified. This should be done if you still have the package the food came in and it says the food was inspected by the USDA prior to sale.

Once you have completed the aforementioned steps, be sure to speak with a products liability attorney in Nashville, Tennessee. It's possible you could have a case against a multitude of entities for your foodborne illness. You might be able to recover damages for medical bills, legal fees, pain and suffering, loss of wages and more.

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, "Foodborne Illness: What Consumers Need to Know," accessed April 26, 2017

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