Do I have a food poisoning case?

This is, by far, the most frequently asked question. While every case is different, there are some factors that are essential to make a claim to recover your expenses related to food poisoning.

First, did you go to the doctor?  If not, unfortunately, you probably cannot prove your case.  You would be asking the food company to take your word that: 1) you had food poisoning and 2) that it was caused by their product.  Because the plaintiff has the burden of proof, we would have to prove that you had food poisoning and where you got it.  The only way to prove you had food poisoning is a positive blood test in your medical records.   Once that is established, we have to prove where the food poisoning came from.  Your doctor is also integral in that process.

When a person goes to the doctor and complains of food poisoning, the doctor performs a blood test.  If the blood test is positive for a food borne illness, the doctor must submit that result to the state department of health.  The Department of Health then begins its investigation.  The Department of Health will analyze all of the data and determine if there is an outbreak.

One interesting thing about food borne illnesses is that no two are alike.  These pathogens mutate so quickly that salmonella from a cantalope will have a different DNA signature than salmonella from any other place.  It’s called a “serotype.”  While all salmonella is salmonella and will be the same species, each source of salmonella creates a unique serotype that distinguishes it from any other possible source.

So, while you may be positive that you got salmonella from the restaurant where you ate last night (and I bet you are right), we have to prove it.  The food company’s lawyers will not take your word for it.  And typically they will try to point to every other food you’ve eaten and every doorknob you touched in the last week and say “prove you didn’t get it from one of those places.”  The only way to prove it is to have a positive diagnosis and a serotype that is linked to a specific source.