Contaminated Food Products

Edited by Admin
Contaminated food products can cause distress for consumers. Learn more about what to do if you have been injured due to a foreign object in your food.

Contaminated Food Products


We’ve all heard horror stories about people finding foreign objects in food products. A teenager in Michigan found a human finger in his Arby’s roast beef sandwich. A California woman who ate a Costco hotdog ended up with a live bullet in her stomach. And a family in New Hampshire found a surprise guest in the bag of grapes they bought at their local Market Basket grocery store: a black widow spider. Canadians also have some revolting stories: the Schneider’s plant in Kitchener was forced to recall several products when syringes were found in some packages of ham. A Fredericton man finished his McDonald’s coffee only to find a dead mouse in the bottom of the cup. And a woman in Churchill Falls in Labrador got more than she bargained for in a bag of frozen vegetables from Walmart; fortunately, she recognized a lizard head in among the broccoli before serving supper.


Finding a disgusting object in food that you’ve been consuming can be very upsetting. But could you recover damages from the company that sold you the food? The short answer is, under certain circumstances, it’s possible that you could be eligible for compensation.


Do You Have a Case?


Any time you or a family member has been injured due to the negligence of another, you should seek legal advice. A personal injury lawyer can assess your situation and let you know more about your options. In the case of food contamination, whether or not you can receive compensation will likely depend on a number of different factors, including:

  • The effects of the injury. Was the injury severe? Were you hospitalized and/or treated for the illness? Are there long-lasting effects?
  • Negligence on behalf of the food provider. Could the restaurant or manufacturer have reasonably foreseen that the food would become contaminated? Did they fail to take steps to protect customers properly?
  • Connecting your illness directly to the contaminated food. Can it be proven that your symptoms were caused by the object in the food? Is there evidence of this?
  • Monetary losses. Did the injury cause you to miss work and lose income? Is there loss of potential income? Did you incur medical expenses due to the injury? Will there be more medical expenses in the future?

Basically, you need to prove that you ate a food product that came from a particular vendor; that the vendor provided you with a contaminated product; that the incident occurred because the vendor was negligent; that your illness was a direct result of the contaminated food; and, that your damages are measurable.

While these things may seem obvious to you, proving them can be difficult. If you can, gather evidence. Are there witnesses to the fact that you ate the contaminated product? Is there, for example, an x-ray that shows the foreign object? Do you have proof of lost shifts and missing wages? Do you have documentation of medical bills?

As distressing as it may be to find an object such as a dead rodent in your coffee, unless it caused significant illness, you likely do not have a case against the coffee provider. In these cases, effects such as “I can’t drink coffee anymore” or “I vomited after the incident” will not be sufficient grounds to bring a lawsuit.

Negligence can also be difficult to prove. If you broke a tooth on a cherry pit hidden in a slice of pie, for example, it could be argued that the pit made it into the pie despite the chef having taken adequate precautions.


Working with a Personal Injury Lawyer


Sometimes people are reluctant to call a lawyer because they can’t afford to pay lawyers’ fees. However, personal injury law in Ontario is different: these lawyers don’t charge up-front hourly fees; rather, they work on a contingency basis, which means that they don’t get paid until you receive compensation. (You will sign a contract specifying a percentage.) This system is helpful for a number of reasons:

  • Your lawyer will not take your case unless they are sure that you have a good chance to receive compensation.
  • Your lawyer will work hard to reach a settlement in your case in a timely fashion.
  • Your household budget will not be strained at a time when you may be losing income.

Most personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation. Before meeting with a lawyer, prepare some notes detailing everything you can remember about the incident. Include names of doctors and other medical professionals, dates of hospitalization and/or treatments. Gather documentation: proof of lost income, medical expenses, medical records, names of witnesses who can corroborate your story. Also: write down any questions you have for the lawyer so that you remember to ask them.


Call Sokoloff Lawyers and book an appointment to discuss your situation.