Why Did Last Night’s Chicken Make You Sick?

Each year, contaminated food sickens 48 million Americans. 28,000 of those are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result. The pathogen Salmonella is both common and potentially lethal. It infects more than a million Americans each year, sending 19,000 victims to the hospital, and killing more people than any other food-born pathogen.

A recent U.S.D.A. study found that 24% of all cut-up chicken parts are contaminated by some form of salmonella. Read Rick Schiller’s horrifying story of how he suffered from salmonella after consuming contaminated chicken.

Another study, by Consumer Reports, found that over 1/3 of chicken breasts that contained salmonella carried a drug-resistant strain.

The Heidelberg variety, which Mr. Schiller had contracted, sent nearly 40% of its victims to the hospital. Scientists quickly identified the source of the outbreak as Foster Farms facilities in California. Most of the victims of the outbreak confirmed that they’d recently eaten chicken, and many specifically named Foster Farms brand.

Once the source of the outbreak is determined, it is up to the U.S.D.A’s Food Safety Inspection Service to curb the problem. Unfortunately, they had no power to force a recall of the tainted chicken. Federal law allows a certain amount of salmonella contamination in raw meat. But when federal limits are breached, and officials believe that a recall is necessary, their only option is to ask the producer to remove the product voluntarily. As evidence, the Food Safety and Inspection Service typically must find a genetic match between salmonella in a victim’s body and the salmonella in the meat that is still in the victim’s possession, with its label still attached.

After 278 patients had been infected with Heidelberg in 17 states, the C.D.C. issued its first warning to the public. Finally, more than a year after the outbreak began, officials announced a genetic match that would allow the agency to request a recall. Foster Farm agreed to withdraw the fresh chicken produced in its California facilities.

A law firm in Seattle has filed hundreds of lawsuits against many of the largest food producers in the world, representing victims like Mr. Schiller.

If you or a loved one has consumed a contaminated or recalled product and has fallen ill, contact our experienced attorneys today for a free consultation. We’re here to help.

Dear friends and clients,

In furtherance of our firms culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can. 

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Jacoby & Meyers, LLP