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Contaminated food at restaurants can leave people very ill

Sitting down to enjoy a hot meal prepared by professional cooks should be an enjoyable and relaxing experience. You pay a premium compared to what it would cost for you to make a similar meal at home for both the convenience of having someone else prepare the food and perhaps the unique flavors or extra skill that the cooks bring to the table.

Unfortunately, sometimes when you pay for a meal at a restaurant, you get more than you bargained for. Some people bring home unfortunate pathogenic souvenirs when they go to a restaurant. Dangerous bacteria and even viruses like hepatitis can pass through contaminated food. Individuals who get sick due to contaminated food are said to suffer from food poisoning.

Food poisoning is dangerous and preventable

As the name implies, food poisoning can be a serious and dangerous experience. It is common for people to experience extreme digestive symptoms due to food poisoning. Illnesses can range from minor to so severe that people are unable to work for multiple days or even weeks.

For the average healthy adult, food poisoning can be excruciatingly painful and result in protracted illness. However, full recovery is likely in most cases. Older adults and children are at increased risk of dangerous side effects of food poisoning. Not only can the infection be more dangerous for the old, young and already sick, but they may also struggle more to recover from the side effects of food poisoning, like dehydration due to emesis.

Even healthy adults could wind up severely sickened or even dying as a result of contaminated food if the pathogen is unusually virulent, like E. coli O157:H7. Reporting any foodborne illness that you suffer to local health authorities helps them to pinpoint the source of the illness and potentially intervene by forcing the restaurant to close and clean.

Businesses have an obligation to the public

Most people assume that the only thing they can do after contracting a foodborne illness at a business is to hunker down and wait out the symptoms. However, businesses have an obligation to meet certain standards in their kitchens. When businesses are fully compliant with local health codes, the potential for the spread of pathogens should be minimal, if not fully eliminated.

Employees not washing their hands after going to the bathroom, staff not properly heating or chilling food items and the service of food that has begun to spoil can all result in otherwise preventable illnesses for the restaurant's patrons.

If either you or the health department can connect a particular establishment with an outbreak of foodborne illness or case of severe food poisoning, it may be possible to take civil action against the restaurant. Specifically, victims of severe food poisoning can recover medical costs, lost wages and similar expenses.

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