Botulism Food Poisoning: Legal Recourse
Botulism is a potentially life-threatening foodborne illness caused by the botulism bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Every year, about 150 people in the United States contract botulism, with about 25 cases resulting from contaminated food. Among various food items, the most common source of botulism poisoning is canned food, such as canned meat, fish, corn and beets. Once the botulism toxin enters the bloodstream, it compromises proper nerve function, causing the onset of gradual muscle paralysis. Without treatment, botulism is often fatal, as the paralysis of the lung muscles can render victims unable to breathe.
After ingesting the botulism bacteria, victims begin to show symptoms of botulism within one to ten days. Some of the first signs include double vision, vertigo, fatigue, and difficulty speaking and swallowing. As the disease progresses, botulism victims often experience difficulty breathing and advancing muscle paralysis moving from the neck and arms down to the hips, knees and ankles. Other signs of botulism poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Because untreated botulism can lead to death, prompt medical intervention is vital. After admitting the patient to a hospital, medical professionals usually take blood and stool samples to confirm botulism. Sometimes, a spinal tap is also necessary.
If diagnosed promptly, the spread of botulism toxin can be halted by an administration of botulism antitoxin. When medical personnel inform The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a potential botulism case, this agency provides the antitoxin. Another form of the botulism antitoxin is available from the U.S. Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To remove any remains of the botulism toxin from the gastrointestinal tract, the doctors might also induce vomiting. In addition, botulism patients are often put on a mechanical ventilator because the toxin compromises their breathing function. After several weeks, most patients begin to recover from the paralysis; however, it usually takes many months to recover completely.
Food manufacturers and distributors have a responsibility to ensure that their products are reasonably safe prior to making them available to consumers. When the food industry fails to adhere to this standard, the responsible companies can be held liable for any harm incurred by consumers. Recently, some of the largest botulism outbreaks in the United States have been linked to defective products manufactured by Castleberry’s Food Company, Campbell Soup Company and Bolthouse Farms.
In 2007, Castleberry’s botulism-contaminated chili sauce sickened at least eight people in Ohio, Indiana and Texas. In 2006, tainted Campbell’s chicken stock sickened a Nevada couple, leaving the husband with serious brain damage. In addition, a 2006 botulism outbreak linked to Bolthouse Farms raw carrot juice killed one victim and rendered five others dependent on mechanical ventilators for extended periods of time. The victims of these botulism outbreaks have sued the responsible parties, and several lawsuits have been resolved through substantial settlements.
Botulism: Legal Help
The lawyers of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz have many years’ experience helping victims of food poisoning obtain justice. They carefully review each case to determine if the involved food manufacturers and/or distributors acted negligently in failing to provide consumers with safe products. If appropriate, they initiate prompt legal action to help victims obtain just compensation for any financial, physical and psychological damages. If you suspect that you or your loved one was sickened with botulism due to a defective food product, contact Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz at (844) 794-7402 for a thorough case review and sound legal advice. In addition to handling botulism cases, AWKO’s botulism lawyers can help you resolve legal issues arising from salmonella, campylobacter, shigella and ciguatera cases.