Food manufacturers make consumers responsible
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Attorney Ronald E. Johnson of Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery concentrates on legal issues regarding defective products. A recent article in the The New York Times says that food companies are expecting consumers to be responsible for making sure the food they sell is not filled with dangerous pathogens.
According to the article, ConAgra Foods which sells Banquet frozen pot pies detected some salmonella but was not able to pinpoint where it came from in the 25 ingredients included in the pies. They decided to make the consumer responsible for what they call the “kill step,” the point at which the pathogens are eliminated. ConAngra Foods, which sold 100 million pot pies last year, included food safety instructions that cautioned that internal temperature when cooking the pot pies needed to reach 165 Degrees F. ConAgra also added food safety instructions to its other frozen meals, including the Healthy Choice brand.
Other food companies, such as Nestle and the Blackstone Group that produces Swanson and Hungry Man frozen meals said they are also shifting the burden of safety to the consumer. And General Mills, which recalled five million frozen pizzas in 2007 after an E. coli contamination, now advises consumers to use conventional ovens rather than microwaves to cook their frozen foods.
Unlikely items such as peanuts and white pepper have been proven to be contaminated as food companies search for ways to cut costs and global places to provide food ingredients. The problem is serious with frozen foods. Federal regulators such as the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention have pushed companies to include cooking instructions with detailed food safety guides, but some companies don’t include these instructions, some are using outdated safety guidelines, and some have only abbreviated guidelines on the side of the boxes in tiny print that consumers probably don’t read.
According to the article, there are estimated to be 76 million cases of food-borne illnesses every year that go unreported or are not traced to the source. Food safety experts think it is the responsibility of the food manufacturer to ensure their food’s safety, not the consumer.
The CDC produced a report after the ConAgra outbreak and found that most people don’t own a food thermometer, but one in four had cooked their pot pies in a conventional oven and the food was still contaminated.
The FDA says combating foodborne illnesses is one of its top priorities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne ailments cause about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths nationwide each year.
The FDA says don’t buy frozen food if the package is damaged. Packages should not be open, torn or crushed on the edges. Also, avoid packages that are above the frost line in the store’s freezer. If the package cover is transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals. This could mean that the food in the package has either been stored for a long time or thawed and refrozen. In such cases, choose another package. If it will take more than an hour to get your groceries home, use an ice chest to keep frozen and perishable foods cold. Also, when the weather is warm and you are using your car’s air conditioner, keep your groceries in the passenger compartment, not the trunk. The condition is an ever-worsening loss of cartilage accompanied by excruciating pain and loss of motion.
Patients cannot get pain relief, even with strong narcotic pain medication. Most return to their doctor complaining of pain so bad that they cannot sleep.
Inevitably the x-rays taken at the doctor’s office show a severe loss of cartilage in the shoulder joint. The only option is a shoulder replacement, which is a painful an expensive surgery. Sadly, if the patient is under 50 years of age, the replacement will not last his or her lifetime. Young patients can expect multiple repeated surgeries on the joint over the course of their lifetime.
The manufacturers of the pain pumps knew that their product should not be used in or near the cartilage in joints. Despite this knowledge they actively marketed these pain pumps to doctors and told the doctors that the pumps were safe. Now, the patients are fighting back. Numerous patients in the northern Kentucky and Cincinnati have hired the law firm of Schachter Hendy & Johnson to help them fight for unpaid medical bills, lost wages and future medical expenses. If you or a loved one have suffered joint injury like chondrolysis of a pain pump, contact us to speak with an attorney who can advise you of your rights.