The Legalities Involved In Food Poisoning

We’ve all had a bad dining experience at some point in our lives, whether it’s poor staff, belligerent customers, or bad food. While some of these instances are tolerable, there are some issues that are dangerous, with food poisoning being one such example. 

What Is Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning occurs when a person eats contaminated food. Contaminants include bacteria such as salmonella or a virus such as the norovirus. While food poisoning is generally not harmful to adults, it is dangerous and potentially life-threatening for young children, pregnant women, older adults, and for people with weakened immune systems. Some symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, or blood in your stool.

Can I Sue a Restaurant If I Get Food Poisoning?

Generally speaking, you can sue a restaurant or food distributor if you get food poisoning from what they served. A food poisoning-related lawsuit falls under a defective product liability claim, which essentially treats the contaminated food as a defective product. Depending on the state’s laws, the following legal principles may or may not apply:

Strict Product Liability

A strict product liability entails that the complainant will no longer be required to prove that the manufacturer or supplier of contaminated food was negligent in the making or distributing of that product. A complainant simply needs to show that the food that they ate was contaminated, and that the food is what specifically caused the food poisoning. 

Breach of Warranties

Implied warranties are minimum standards that states impose on the production and distribution of products. Basic standards such as proper packaging, proper storage, the inclusion of a manufacture and expiry date in products are standard. With restaurants, some standards include sanitation, proper cooking, and more. The contamination of food may be considered a breach of these implied warranties. A contamination will also be treated as a violation of any express guarantees asserted by the food supplier or restaurant such as “freshly-cooked” or “triple-washed”. Obviously, if these guarantees were true, no food poisoning would occur.


In the event that a strict product liability approach is not available, a claimant must assert that the respondent was negligent in the preparation or distribution of the contaminated food. Oversights such as the failure to exercise reasonable care in preparation or storage of the food, or in the failure to sanitize the kitchen are a few examples that can be used to assert negligence. In either scenario, you’d be far better off by working with lawyers who are expert at handling cases that involve Food Poisoning.

Food poisoning is more serious than most people know. Besides the physical health effects of experiencing food poisoning, it can also lead to other damages such as the cost of medical treatment as well as missed wages at work. Again, it’s important to seek the help of experienced lawyers so that you’re able to secure fair and full compensation for your ordeal.