Information about

Foodborne Illness and



The FDA defines foodborne disease outbreak as:

"the occurence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from the ingestion of a common food."

Incidents of foodborne illness are generally local, the news does not make national headlines. Under liability laws, companies that sell unsafe food can be held responsible even if they do not know about or contribute to the danger from the food.

In the spring of 2016, pistachio nuts carrying Salmonella were recalled. It was a difficult spring for Salmonella and pistachios, with incidents starting in January.

In August 2015, a San Diego restaurant had an outbreak. 55 banquet guests were reportedly ill after the dinner. No way to know how many of the 170 banquet attendees were sickened, but did not report it.

In March 2015, a Texas based creamery had a fatal infection. Products infected with listeriosis were consumed at a Kansas Hospital. Add hospital patients to the list of most likely to be susceptible to foodborne illness.

In September 2014, a Baltimore convention center had an ironic twist. Apparently a convention center's exclusive caterer, provided a C. perfringens tainted lunch to a group of Food Safety Professionals.

In October 2013, a Costco in California is blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella. They say they cooked the chicken to an appropriate temperature. Foster Farms in California has revealed "plans to clean up areas where contamination was likely". "Costco is the second major retailer to recall Foster Farms chicken. Kroger Co. pulled chicken from the three Foster Farms processing plants off its shelves last week.."

In January 2013, Michigan and four other states endure an outbreak of Salmonella.

In September 2012, a Batavia, IL restaurant closes. The restaurant is working to find a source for the six cases of Salmonella poisoning connected to the restaurant. If this was your restaurant, it would now be your nightmare.

In early February 2012, Jimmy John's makes headlines. Bad sprouts contributed to 12 cases of E. coli poisoning in Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Wisconsin. "After the salmonella outbreak a year ago, the company said it would switch from using alfalfa sprouts to using clover sprouts because they are easier to clean." Not easy enough.

The deadliest outbreak yet. Contaminated Cantaloupe spreads through several states in September/October 2011. Simply tragic. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of October 17, 2011, the contaminated fruit had sickened at least 123 people in 26 states, killing 25 and causing a miscarriage in one pregnant woman. We pay a lot of attention to cooking temperatures, and we need to focus on even more steps of the flow of food.

In early August 2011, Washington state berries are in the news. Make certain the produce you receive is washed thoroughly.

In early January 2011, a Chicago based company needed to recall some ground beef. Fortunately for everyone, no reports of illness have been made. Good work.

Nation's Restaurant News had an interesting article in October 2010 about Food Safety Managers through the eyes of the FDA.

The summer of 2010's big story was the egg recall. This will put some real pressure on the lobbying groups associated with eggs, AND the FDA.

Real challenge faces Subway with Salmonella in June, 2010. thinks it is inappropriate to wear the same gloves to assemble sandwiches and handle the cash register and currency. The current problem is bigger than that.

The Huffington Post finds bagged spinach and peanut butter among the Worst Product Recalls of all time.

May and June 2009 bring beef recalls. In June a Colorado firm recalls 20 tons of beef. Think about that, 20 tons! Sounds pretty big until you remember that in May an Illinois firm recalled TWICE that much. These people could be in your food chain!

Although not a real outbreak, in early September 2008, Corner Bakery gets some attention. Chicago is a great vacation city, and the Sears Tower is a great place to visit, but maybe not a good place to eat.

Mid-February 2008, Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer issues a statement about Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company. Schools across the country and the communities they serve are concerned. The recall is massive. How well do you think the current inspection practices are working?

September 2007 brings bad news about N.J.-based Topps Meat Company and E. coli.

In July, 2007 "Taste of Chicago", Chicago's outdoor food festival spreads salmonella. The Chicago Department of Public Health gets involved. Maybe all Taste of Chicago participants should be required to pass the 100 Question Test.

In early May, 2007, Davis Creek Meats and Seafood in Michigan issued a recall for beef products. 129,000 pounds could possibly be contaminated with E. coli.

On Valentine's Day, 2007, ConAgra Foods' Peter Pan peanut butter may have some salmonella contamination.

Early December 2006, E. coli at Taco Bell captures headlines as it spreads. Right now attributed to scallions, most people call them green onions, but they are really scallions.

October 19, 2006 brought a recall of egg salad, distributed in Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, Delaware and Florida.

Possibly, the most notorious case was at Jack-in-the-Box restaurants. Quite a tragic situation.

Foodborne illness can be a specialty for a legal firm. We suggest that if these people call you while you are at work, you send out some resumes quickly. Another website reports litigation involving personal injury lawsuits filed in connection with food safety.

The legal firm of Marler Clark comes up frequently in foodborne illness litigation. Marler Clark has an interesting foodborne illness website.

There are many, many more examples out there. The impact of an occurrence is tremendous, primarily upon the victim who purchased the contaminated food. When death is a result of the simple transaction of purchasing and consuming food, food safety cannot be ignored. The secondary impact on the company and employees that provided the contaminated food is small in comparison.