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The Hazards of Listeria Infection: What You Need to Know with Insights from a Personal Injury Lawyer

Shay + Associates Law Firm personal injury lawyer in Springfield and Decatur, Illinois

Each year, about 25% of all Americans become ill with food poisoning, also called foodborne illness. While some cases of food poisoning are not severe and simply cause gastrointestinal distress for one or two days, others cause complications so severe that the ill require hospital stays or even die. In fact, about 5,000 people die from food poisoning each year.

In recent years, many packaged foods have been recalled due to listeria contamination. While not everyone who consumes listeria-tainted food will become ill, most who do need to be hospitalized, and some suffer serious medical complications due to their listeria infections. In fact, about 260 people die each year due to listeria infection.

Read on to learn more about listeria food recalls, the health hazards of a listeriosis, and what to do if you contract listeria from a packed food that has been recalled.

Recent Listeria Food Recalls

There were many food recalls issued in 2017 alone due to listeria contamination. Just a few include:

  • Nodine’s Smokehouse, Inc. Smoked Salmon. This product sold in 1.5 oz and 8 oz packages was recalled by the manufacturer in December of 2017 due to possible listeria contamination. Only lot numbers 40173 and 33173 were recalled.

  • Giant Food Frozen Whole Kernel Sweet Corn. The grocery store recalled this product and removed it from store shelves in November of 2017 due to possible listeria contamination. Only bags with the UPC code 68826700676 with a best-buy date of October of 2019 were recalled.

  • Stop & Shop Frozen Whole Kernel Sweet Corn. Another grocery store recalled its store-brand frozen corn due to possible listeria contamination in November of 2017. The bags of corn also have the UPC code 68826700676 and a best-buy date of October of 2019.

Manufacturers often produce and package the same product for multiple stores to sell under their own private labels, which is why the same food item is often recalled at multiple stores selling it under different brand names.

So if you hear that a specific food item has been recalled at one store and you typically purchase a similar item at another, you should look at the FDA recall list to make sure your favorite food item is not also contaminated.

Listeria Symptoms & Complications

While anyone can develop listeriosis after eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, senior citizens, pregnant women, newborns, and people with compromised immune systems are more likely than healthy adults to develop severe symptoms after consuming the bacteria.

Many healthy adults who contract listeriosis develop diarrhea and other symptoms typical of mild food poisoning that resolve relatively quickly without lasting health consequences. However, in some people, this infection can advance into invasive listeriosis, which is a much more severe form of the illness.

The first signs of invasive listeriosis include a stiff neck, confusion, headache, and even convulsions. While antibiotics can often help clear up an invasive listeriosis infection, some people develop severe complications due to the illness.

The bacteria can travel into a person’s bloodstream and cause sepsis, which is life-threatening. Listeriosis meningitis can also develop, which is inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. This complication can cause death or lasting brain damage and/or hearing loss.

Pregnant women can develop invasive listeriosis without experiencing severe symptoms themselves. They typically only experience the symptoms of a low-grade listeria infection even when the infection advances. However, the infection can cause miscarriage, still birth, or cause the baby to be born with a listeria infection that could kill them.

Listeriosis of all types can occur as early as the day of consumption of the bacteria or as late as 70 days after consumption, which makes it important to monitor your health for over two months after eating a food item that has been recalled due to possible listeria contamination.

What to Do If You Eat Food Contaminated with Listeria

If you notice that a food you have consumed is recalled due to possible listeria contamination, keep an eye on your health for a full 70 days. Contact your doctor at the first signs of infection. Inform your doctor that you recently ate food possibly contaminated with listeria and ask for a blood test to check for the bacteria. Antibiotics may help clear up the infection.

To help prove that you contracted listeria from the specific product you ate, make sure you save the product package, any uneaten food, and/or the product receipt. Also, save all hospital bills and documentation that states you were ill with listeria.

If you are hospitalized for your infection and/or experience long-term health consequences, reach out to a personal injury lawyer who can help you obtain compensation from the food distributor, manufacturer, and/or grocery store for your medical bills, pain, and suffering. If your newborn baby was born with listeriosis, then you can also seek compensation for your child’s illness and potential lasting health effects.

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