Early this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control finally announced the end of an E. coli outbreak that affected 62 people in America and 29 in Canada. According to NBC News, the infections were traced back to romaine lettuce farms in California. E. coli with the same DNA strain was found on one farm in particular. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration do not believe one farm alone could be responsible for such a large outbreak.

NBC News estimates that 48 million Americans become sick from foodborne illnesses every year. In very rare instances, people become hospitalized, and in even rarer instances, they die. Roughly 128,000 people become so sick they go to a hospital, while 3,000 cases prove fatal. While no one died in this outbreak, it nonetheless caused many Canadians to think twice about the relatively safe perceptions they have of food.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, food can make people sick when it becomes contaminated with parasites, viruses or bacteria. When people experience illness based on this, it is called food poisoning. The symptoms typically include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Roughly 4 million people in Canada are affected by food poisoning annually.

In most instances, food poisoning can be avoided if people follow best-practices when it comes to food:

  •          Separate
  •          Cook
  •          Chill
  •          Clean

Because of this, when people become sick from food poisoning, victims or their family members may choose to file a personal injury suit against the restaurant believed to be at fault. In the case of E. coli, where vegetables tend to be the most dangerous carriers even in restaurants that follow safe food-handling practices, farms are more likely to receive the blame.

If the farm is found to have caused the E. coli infection due to neglect, they might face legal trouble. The same may be true if they were aware of the potential infection but did not act upon that information to inform the public and withdraw their produce.