Food poisoning could occur anywhere and pretty much, at any time. But, one of the most common ways in which food poisoning does occur is by eating at a restaurant. When we eat out, we have no control over what goes into our food, how it’s stored, how it’s prepared and who prepares it. This raises the risk of suffering a food-borne illness.

However, restaurants and other businesses that serve food have a duty and a legal obligation to ensure that the food they serve to patrons is clean and safe to consume. If you suffer food poisoning as a result of contaminated food or due to the negligence of the restaurant’s employees, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the restaurant to seek compensation for your losses.

Higher Risk of Food Poisoning

While dining at a restaurant may be easier and more appealing than a home-cooked meal, recent studies show that you are twice as likely to get food poisoning dining out compared to eating in. Researchers with the Center for Science in Public Interest analyzed data on more than 3,900 solved cases of food-borne illness in the U.S. over 10 years. They found more than 1,600 outbreaks linked to restaurant meals, which sickened more than 28,000 people in that time.

There may be a number of reasons why food poisoning occurs at restaurants. We’ve seen cases where the food was prepared by workers who were ill. Often, ingredients for dishes are left out at temperatures where the food could go back. Cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens could lead to food getting tainted with bacteria. Food poisoning at restaurants could also occur because the eatery used ingredients that were already contaminated.

If You Have Been Sickened

If you have become ill after dining at a restaurant, there are a number of steps you can take to help protect your rights. First, save the receipt that helps prove that you did eat at the restaurant at the date and given time. Make sure you get prompt medical attention and treatment for your illness. It is important to get the appropriate diagnostic tests to determine what is affecting your health.

Report your illness to the restaurant and to the local health agency, which tracks these types of outbreaks. You may not have been the only one to suffer food poisoning on that particular day or week at that restaurant. It would also be a good idea to save any leftovers you brought back home so it can be tested at an independent lab for the presence of pathogens. Contact an experienced Pennsylvania food poisoning lawyer who can give you more information about pursuing your rights.

Liability and Damages

In such cases, in addition to the restaurant, other parties such as the manufacturer, retailer or distributor of the problematic food product can also be held accountable. Injured victims of food poisoning can seek compensation for damages including all medical expenses including hospitalization, lost income and pain and suffering. An experienced Pennsylvania food poisoning lawyer will be able to stay abreast of the official investigation and make sure negligent parties are held accountable.