Call Today   |   888.828.7087

Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

The standard for school lunches has changed a lot over the years regarding quality and nutritional value. But ensuring food is free from harmful germs like E. coli has always been a constant.

If your child gets food poisoning from the school lunch, you might wonder if you have the right to take action—and the answer is yes. Here’s more on how food could become contaminated at schools and how you could recover from your damages.

What Schools Can Do to Prevent Food Poisoning

Schools must feed hundreds of children daily at different intervals, depending on the size. Like restaurants or grocery stores, schools must follow food safety best practices to avoid a costly outbreak. These best practices include the following:

  • Washing Hands – Lunch staff should wash their hands before and after preparing food products.
  • Cleaning Utensils – Knives used to cut raw meat and utensils used to serve food at lunch should all be cleaned after each use.
  • Using Gloves – In addition to washing hands, lunch staff should also wear gloves to prevent contamination.
  • Proper Food Storage – Staff members should never store food in the “Danger Zone”—a temperature between 40-140° F. Bacteria grows rapidly between these temperatures and could increase the risk of foodborne illness.
  • Handling Certain Foods Separately – Staff members should handle foods like raw meats separately by using different cutting boards and workstations.

How Does Food Become Contaminated in Schools?

School-provided lunches could become contaminated in several ways. First, children could be at risk for food poisoning when any food safety best practices listed above aren’t followed.

Staff members might not use a thermometer to ensure food is cooked to the right temperature. Or they could serve spoiled food that was stored incorrectly. Cross-contamination is another reason food poisoning occurs, and staff could prevent this by sanitizing their workstations.

However, cafeteria workers aren’t the only ones responsible for food safety. Food products pass through many stages before reaching the school. These products might have been contaminated at the production stage or improperly stored during distribution.

A thorough investigation could determine the source of the contamination.

Who’s Liable for Food Poisoning in Schools?

Many parties could be at fault for your child’s food poisoning, including the following:

  • Lunchroom Staff – Careless food handling, lack of training, and other factors could blame the lunchroom staff for your child’s food poisoning.
  • The School District – Schools must hire qualified personnel and train them in food safety best practices. The school district could be at fault if staff members aren’t adequately trained or supervised.
  • Third-Party Distributors – Since schools rely on third-party distribution companies to deliver their food products, the outbreak’s source could be traced back to their facility.

How to Sue the School When Your Child Gets Sick

You can pursue compensation if your child gets sick from their school’s lunch. If your child comes home and is experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of foodborne illness, follow these steps to begin building your claim:

  • Seek Medical Help & Gather Evidence – Take your child to the doctor to confirm the cause of their sickness. If your child has food poisoning, keep a record of the doctor’s visit and any medical expenses.
  • Contact Your Child’s School – Inform the school of the food poisoning incident. The sooner you contact them, the faster they can take steps to contain the outbreak.
  • Report the Food Poisoning – You can contact the FDA or your local health department to report your food poisoning incident.
  • Contact an Attorney – Your lawyer will use all their resources to investigate the root cause of your child’s food poisoning and determine all the parties that could be at fault. They’ll interview witnesses, recruit the help of experts, and negotiate with the at-fault party to obtain a fair settlement.

Did Your Child Get Sick at School? Call OFT Today

When schools and their staff fail to uphold their duty to provide your child with a safe lunch, they could be liable for any damages they caused. OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers has the resources to thoroughly investigate your case and establish negligence. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation at 888-828-7087.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

Multistate Cyclospora outbreaks


A couple contracted Salmonella from a restaurant


A pedestrian was struck by a left-turning car, fracturing her tibia


A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash