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How a Food Poisoning Attorney Can Help

Listeriosis is a serious disease that can lead to important legal claims.

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Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the germ Listeria monocytogenes. People usually become ill with listeriosis after eating contaminated food.

Our lawyers will perform an independent and thorough assessment of your illness. We will also obtain critical information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigation, as well as the local or state health department’s review. This will help to identify the contaminated food that led to your infection as well as the business responsible. When we can identify the liable party and gather enough evidence to connect them to your injuries directly, we will recommend a lawsuit against that party to secure compensation for your injuries.

Depending on the circumstances, we may recommend filing a product liability claim based on negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty. Through a lawsuit, we will fight for you to recover your:

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages and Benefits
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Physical Limitations

Who Is Liable for a Listeria Infection?

Various businesses can be responsible for contaminated food, including:

  • Farm, orchard, other food production facility
  • Food manufacturer or producer
  • Food distributor
  • Transportation company
  • Grocery store
  • Restaurant
  • Other food preparers

The CDC investigates potential Listeria outbreaks. The CDC’s traceback process may identify your initial contact with a contaminated product, such as at a restaurant or deli counter. We also will conduct a thorough, independent investigation to determine if a restaurant, deli, grocery store, or other seller’s poor food handling practices resulted in the contamination.

The CDC may determine a single source of the contamination, though this is not always possible. If the CDC identifies a particular manufacturer, distributor, or facility connected to the contamination, you may be able to file a claim against this company. Contamination can arise during cultivation of a product, the manufacturing process of cheeses and meats, and during packaging and distribution.

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

What is Listeria?

Listeriosis is a serious infection you can contract from food contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. Anyone can contract this bacterial infection, but pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

Listeriosis is typically a mild illness for pregnant women. While they may show minor symptoms, the infection is a very serious issue for the fetus or newborn baby.

Pregnant women can suffer from miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery. According to the CDC, Listeriosis causes a fetal loss in about 20% of cases. The newborn can also suffer a life-threatening infection. The CDC reports newborn death occurs in about 3% of cases. When a pregnant woman notices the symptoms of Listeriosis, it is important to seek medical care immediately to protect the pregnancy.

Individuals with weak immune systems and the elderly are more likely to develop severe infections in the bloodstream or brain, which can be fatal. Listeriosis can also affect other parts of the body, including the bones and joints.

Severe Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics. Prompt treatment of severe symptoms is important and dramatically reduces the risk of more severe complications.

How Is Listeria Contracted?

Listeriosis is usually contracted through contaminated food, such as:

  • Unpasteurized dairy products
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Deli meats, hot dogs, and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Latino-style cheeses from pasteurized milk, such as queso fresco

Preventing Listeria contamination is very important. This bacterium can survive cold temperatures, including freezing. Even refrigerated and frozen foods can be contaminated.

Preventing Listeria: Key Measures and Spotting Risky Foods

Preventing Listeria infection is crucial, especially in environments where the risk of contamination is high. Here are practical steps you can take to minimize the risk and identify potential hazards in your food:

  • Maintain Cleanliness: Ensure that your refrigerator, kitchen surfaces, and utensils are regularly cleaned. Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  • Proper Food Storage and Handling: Store perishable items at or below 40°F (4°C) and keep cooked foods separate from raw foods to avoid cross-contamination. Regularly check the temperatures of your refrigerator and freezer.
  • Cook Foods Thoroughly: Meats, particularly poultry and seafood, should be cooked to the correct temperatures to eliminate harmful bacteria. Always use a food thermometer to check that food has reached a safe internal temperature.

How Can I Identify High-Risk Conditions in Food?

Not all contaminated foods show visible signs of Listeria, making it a stealthy risk. However, there are conditions and types of food where Listeria is more likely to be found:

  • Damaged Packaging: Be wary of foods in damaged or bloated packages. Compromised packaging can be a gateway for bacteria.
  • Condensation or Ice Crystals: Foods that have been improperly stored, causing ice crystals or condensation to form, might have been stored at unsafe temperatures, allowing Listeria to grow.
  • Unpasteurized Products: Avoid unpasteurized dairy products and soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, as these are conducive environments for Listeria growth.
  • Ready-to-Eat Foods: Deli meats, hot dogs, and pre-prepared or refrigerated ready-to-eat foods are more likely to contain Listeria unless they are properly handled and heated before consumption.

What are the Symptoms of Listeria?

Listeria has a long incubation period of anywhere between seven and 70 days.

Listeriosis symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person. When a person suffers a minor Listeria infection, which remains in the gut, they may experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever

Minor Listeriosis rarely requires medical care.

In some cases, the Listeria bacteria will spread beyond the gut, which can lead to other symptoms and complications. This is known as invasive listeriosis. According to the CDC, about one in five people die of Listeria infections.

When Listeria spreads to the nervous system, individuals can experience:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Changes in alertness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Convulsions
  • Sensitivity to light

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care right away. These can be signs of bacterial meningitis, which can cause severe complications, disabilities, and death. Severe symptoms can also be a sign of a generalized blood infection (Sepsis).

Listeriosis in a newborn can be severe, but the symptoms are often subtle. Parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for:

  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Little interest in feeding
  • Vomiting

If you or your child suffered from a severe Listeria infection, or a loved one passed away from Listeriosis or a related infection, you should talk with a Listeria outbreak lawyer right away. It is a good idea to have an attorney represent your interests during the investigatory process, analyze whether you have a valid claim, and when appropriate, pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries or loss.

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How Do Doctors Diagnose Listeria?

If you present with symptoms of Listeriosis and have had contact with potentially contaminated food in the past few months, your doctor will order a blood test. This is the most common and effective way to confirm Listeriosis. Physicians may also run a bacterial culture on urine, spinal fluid, or the placenta.

How Is Listeria Treated?

Most Listeriosis cases are mild and do not require medical care. Individuals suffering from nausea and diarrhea can manage the symptoms by drinking plenty of fluids and be careful with their diet.

Individuals with severe Listeriosis symptoms should seek medical care as soon as possible. Listeriosis, sepsis, and meningitis can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are crucial for pregnant women suffering from a Listeria infection. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of injury to the fetus and pregnancy.

Recent Listeria Outbreaks & Recalls

A Listeria outbreak was reported in April 2019, and the CDC has linked it to deli-sliced meats and cheeses, though a single producer has not been established. There have been eight reported cases in four states. The infection led to all eight people being hospitalized and one death reported in Michigan.

A Listeria outbreak was linked to pork products produced by Long Phung Food Products between July 2017 and October 2018. There were four reported cases resulting in four hospitalizations and no deaths. The company, incorporated in Houston, Texas, recalled the contaminated products.

Between July 2017 and August 2018, there were four cases, four hospitalizations, and one death due to contaminated products sold by Johnston County Hams, Inc. in Smithfield, North Carolina. The company recalled several ham products.

Between September 2016 and March 2017, there were eight cases, which resulted in eight hospitalizations and two deaths linked to raw milk cheeses from Vulto Creamery in Walton, New York.

From 2011-16, other outbreaks were linked to frozen vegetables, raw milk, packaged salads, soft cheeses, prepackaged caramel apples, bean sprouts, and cantaloupes.

Reporting Listeria Cases

Several federal agencies monitor food products for safety and promulgate regulations food producers and sellers must adhere to. These regulations and monitoring programs are intended to ensure consumers only receive safe food products. Many food products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Together, these agencies and others administer dozens of food safety laws.

If you are diagnosed with a Listeria infection, this should be reported to your local or state health department. You should also report the infection to the appropriate federal agency—the USDA for meat, poultry, and egg products and the FDA for other food products.

Speak to Our Listeria Outbreak Lawyers Now

Don’t wait until it is too late to discuss your rights after a Listeria outbreak. You deserve to know the facts, who is responsible, and your options regarding compensation. With decades of experience in the food safety field and millions of dollars recovered, our OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers have the skill and resources to handle any foodborne illness case.

Call 888.828.7087 today or contact us online. We handle food injury cases across the nation, offer 100% free, initial consultations, and there are never any fees unless you recover compensation.

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