Homepage > Who is Liable for Food Poisoning Caused by Tampering?
July 15, 2023
Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers
Food tampering is a severe offense in the United States. While a typical food poisoning case is caused by negligence, food tampering refers to an individual’s deliberate contamination of food products. It’s like the difference between hitting a car while texting and knowingly hitting someone intending to harm them.
Although this is a criminal offense, you could still recover monetary compensation if the CDC and local health agencies successfully trace the source of an outbreak. Understanding the signs of food tampering and the many individuals that could be liable helps you stay safe and get the compensation you need to recover from your damages.
After a series of Tylenol poisoning deaths in Chicago, the federal government passed the Federal Anti-Tampering Act in 1983, which prohibits anyone from tampering with the labeling or container of any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce.
This includes any products that are being manufactured, distributed, or held for sale. The law also states that the tampering must be done with “reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury” for it to be charged as a criminal offense.
The Consumer Product Protection Act of 2002 makes it illegal to stamp, print, place, or insert any writing in or on any consumer product that affects interstate or foreign commerce, or the box, package, or another container of any such product before its sale.
Anyone who attempts tampering faces a fine of up to $25,000 and as much as ten years in prison. If the tampering causes death, the fine increases to $100,000, and the prison sentence increases to up to 20 years. Other cases result in a $50,000 fine and up to ten years in jail.
Anyone who violates the conditions set under the Consumer Product Protection Act faces up to a year in prison.
Your food might have been tampered with if you notice the following:
Anyone could be at fault for intentionally contaminating food products, and it’s up to the CDC and local health officials to properly trace the outbreak back to its source.
Their investigation might reveal that a disgruntled employee, activist, or competitor intentionally contaminated food products to disrupt a business. Food tampering could also be an act of terrorism that intends to harm as many victims as possible. In other cases, delivery drivers might intentionally contaminate a customer’s food en route to their home.
There have been several food tampering incidents over the years that all range in severity. One food tampering case involved a man who intentionally poured bleach on freezer items at a Target in Phoenix. In another case, a man stuck razor blades in his former employer’s pizza dough.
The FDA offers the following tips to help you detect food tampering:
You might have to report food tampering to multiple individuals or agencies. If you see damaged products in a grocery store, report it to the manager. You should also report the food tampering incident to your local police department since this is a criminal offense.
If the damaged product is meat, poultry, or eggs, report it to the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. You could contact the FDA Main Emergency Number or your state’s consumer complaint coordinator for all other foods. If you believe your food was tampered with at a restaurant, you can report it to your local health department.
You should report the incident immediately if you suspect your food was tampered with. If you believe tampered food caused you to suffer from food poisoning, contact the lawyers at OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers today. We’ll work with experts to determine the cause of your food poisoning and find the party responsible.