Justice Department Sending Message to Food Companies
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Apr 11, 2016
In the midst of multiple outbreaks of bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, the Justice Department is cracking down on food safety offenders. After successfully convicting the former head of the Peanut Corporation of America for knowingly shipping salmonella-containing products which sickened hundreds of people, the Justice Department has now initiated investigations into two big food safety offenders this year: Blue Bell Creameries and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Finding Fault for Outbreaks of Dangerous Bacteria
Part of the purpose behind the investigation being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice is to determine who was at fault for outbreaks of bacteria. (Blue Bell Creameries faced a listeria outbreak, which sickened dozens, and food from Chipotle Mexican Grill gave salmonella to multiple customers across the nation). According to an article published in The Wall Street Journal, the Blue Bell Creameries case is most similar to the Peanut Corporation of America outbreak as both involved products that came directly from the companies’ manufacturing facilities. On the other hand, the Chipotle salmonella outbreak was a result of tainted products from outside providers. As reported, the Justice Department is looking into what each company knew about the outbreak, and whether or not the companies were aware that products were infected.
Changes in the Food Industry
It appears that the Justice Department is indicating that when it comes to food safety and the standards that food manufacturers and distributors are being held to, the bar is being raised. When the Department of Justice can prove that a food company knowingly sold a defective and dangerous food product, the responsible party will likely face serious repercussions. For those who have been sickened by bacteria outbreaks from infected food, the change is a welcome one. Bacteria in food can cause severe health complications, from uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea to death in the most severe of cases.
Liability for Infected Food
The role of the Justice Department in terms of charging and convicting corporate leaders – as in the case of the former head of the Peanut Corporation of America – is done in criminal court. However, civil lawsuits for monetary compensation are also possible. While civil penalties do not involve jail time, they can yield thousands of dollars for plaintiffs. If you believe that you or a loved one has been sickened or injured due to tainted food, you may have a civil claim against the manufacturer or distributor of that food product.
Contact an Attorney Today
You have the right to safe food. When this right is violated and you are harmed as a result, pursuing a civil action may be in your best interest. At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we can help you to explore your legal options. During your first consultation with us, which is completely free, we will assess the strength of your case and inform you of your rights moving forward. To schedule your initial consultation with our experienced product liability attorneys today, call our offices directly or use our online form.