Getting food poisoning is an experience no one ever wishes to have. Unfortunately, it can occur anytime you eat out at a restaurant or buy food from an outside vendor, even from a small establishment like a street food cart.
If you experience food poisoning after eating something you purchased at a restaurant or other food service establishment, you should know that you have certain rights you can exercise. Food poisoning can cause severe symptoms and even hospital stays, and you should not have to handle the expenses on your own if the food establishment is responsible.
Symptoms of food poisoning
Before you take any action against a food establishment you suspect caused your food poisoning, you should understand the symptoms. One of the things you will have to prove is that your illness was a direct result of the food you ate. Food poisoning results when you swallow a germ, and there are different types of germs that cause foodborne illness. In addition, the time that symptoms show up can vary depending on the type of foodborne germ.
Typical indications include flu-like symptoms such as nausea, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and chills. However, some types of food poisoning, such as botulism, can cause even more severe symptoms such as slurred speech, vision problems, and paralysis. Any time you experience symptoms such as these following a meal, especially meals made from foods that can be common carriers of foodborne illness such as undercooked meat, eggs, or shellfish, you should see a doctor and document all symptoms.
Taking action after food poisoning
One of the first things you should do if you suspect you contracted food poisoning from a public food establishment is call your local health department. Alerting the health department officials is an important step because it can help limit and contain a major foodborne illness outbreak. In addition, it lets local authorities know there may be a food handling issue at a specific establishment, and the health department can take any necessary action to protect the public. If you suffer severe symptoms and incur medical bills and missed time at work, you may also consider taking legal action against the food establishment to seek compensation.