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Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers

Yes. You could sue a daycare for food poisoning on behalf of your child if the facility did something that led to the illness. Here’s what the law says about daycare food poisoning, your rights, and how parents should handle the situation.

Steps a Daycare Must Take to Prevent Food Poisoning

Daycares that serve and handle food must take steps to safely manage what’s served to the children in their care. That includes following all local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations.

Some steps daycares must take to prevent food poisoning include:

  • Maintain a clean facility
  • Sanitize surfaces and food storage locations
  • Clean food service areas thoroughly
  • Purchase high-quality foods
  • Discard expired and unsafe foods
  • Store food in a safe manner
  • Maintain temperature-controlled environments for food
  • Facilitate hand washing when handling foods
  • Wear gloves when necessary
  • Keep certain foods separate and apart
  • Feed children in a safe and healthy manner

In addition to taking these precautions against food poisoning, daycare facilities must maintain a clean environment to prevent illness as much as possible. Childcare centers have many cleanliness requirements they must follow. They can be held accountable when children become sick if they operate a dirty facility.

How Common is Food Poisoning in Daycares?

Every year, approximately 48 million people in the United States get food poisoning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food poisoning is responsible for nearly 3,000 deaths annually in the United States.

Many of those who become sick due to foodborne illnesses are children in daycare facilities. Nearly one in six children will become ill due to unsafe food handling.

The Causes of Food Poisoning in Daycares

Daycare centers are complex environments full of small parts and difficult-to-control variables. This can pose risks to maintaining cleanliness. However, specific actions frequently lead to foodborne illness in children.

Failure to Wash Hands

Hands should be washed with soap and water before contact with food. Children should also be properly instructed on how to wash their hands. Childcare providers often have issues with proper hand washing between diaper changing and food handling.

Failure to Properly Sanitize

All spaces where food is handled or served should be adequately sanitized multiple times per day. Before food is introduced into the environment, countertops and utensils should be cleaned. Tables and serving spaces should also be sanitized before and after providing food to children.

Failure to Monitor Bathroom Use

Children and adults should properly clean their hands after using the bathroom. Restrooms should also be thoroughly cleaned and maintained to prevent contamination of food service areas.

Failure to Avoid Cross Contamination

Certain foods should be handled in a certain manner to prevent transmission of germs. For example, raw meat, eggs, and milk should be kept separately. Once handled, utensils and surfaces should be washed before they are used for anything else.

Failure to Cook Food Properly

Childcare centers that cook food for children often fail to ensure raw meat and other foods are correctly heated. Certain foods must be cooked to specific temperatures to be safe for children. If foods are cross-contaminated and then not cooked properly, even foods that do not need to reach a specific temperature can pose risks.

Failure to Keep Foods Cool Enough

Perishable foods like milk, eggs, and other items should be kept refrigerated at certain temperatures. Failure to do so can lead to bacterial growth and foodborne illness.

The Signs of Food Poisoning in Children

There are several different types of food poisoning, each with different symptoms. Salmonella, listeria, and E. coli are some of the most common. However, according to the CDC, 31 pathogens can cause food poisoning in daycare centers.

Some symptoms you should watch for to identify food poisoning in your child include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fever
  • Pain

While the typical symptoms of food poisoning can last anywhere between a few hours to several days, children are at risk of developing potentially life-threatening conditions such as dehydration and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Such complications can cause kidney failure, liver damage, pancreatitis, brain damage, and damage to other organs.

How to Sue a Daycare for Food Poisoning

If your child becomes ill and you suspect a foodborne illness due to the negligence of their daycare facility, you should immediately contact a food poisoning lawyer. It can be challenging to gather all the evidence needed to prove the childcare center caused the illness. But it is possible with the help of an experienced professional.

Your food safety attorney can help you take the following steps to sue a daycare on behalf of your child:

  • Gather evidence to support your case
  • Draft and file a complaint
  • Engage in the discovery process
  • Depose witnesses, including daycare workers
  • Get expert opinions about the situation
  • Negotiate a settlement with the daycare center
  • Take your case to court, if necessary

A Food Safety & Injury Lawyer Can Help

Knowing how and where your child contracted food poisoning can be challenging. In some cases, it may be evident if many children get sick simultaneously. In other cases, it can be more challenging to prove. An experienced food safety and injury attorney can guide you through the legal process.

Call our food poisoning law firm of OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers at 888-828-7087 or contact us online for a free case consultation.

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