Food Poisoning Victims: Here is a Must-Read Legal Article.

Food poisoning happens every day in our country. Years of neglect have rendered our food safety inspection systems vulnerable or even obsolete. The United States Department of Agriculture has the herculean task of keeping an eye on a food supply that draws on factories and producers worldwide. Their resources are extremely limited, their inspectors few and their reliance on industry self-inspection and self-reporting is almost complete.

The Food and Drug Administration until quite recently has been even more limited in its ability to monitor food safety.

So what can consumers do to enhance their own safety and to look into suspected cases of food borne illness?

The answer is a multi-faceted one. First, while the U.S. government is limited in its inspection and enforcement capabilities, it is a very effective disseminator of useful information.

The Department of Agriculture has a fine website and in particular maintains a meat and poultry hotline that can provide live answers to food safety questions. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/usda_meat_&_poultry_hotline/index.asp

In addition to the weblink they can be reached toll-free at (888)674-6854.

The website itself provides podcasts on food safety, provides educational materials, and sponsors a food safety conference in Atlanta, Georgia from March 23 to 26, 2010.

It also provides information and links to the relevant law and science of food safety and ways to avoid food poisoning.

Another helpful resource on food borne illness is: http://www.foodsafety.gov/.

This website is sponsored by the FDA and provides links to state agencies involved in food safety and has an enormous volume of information on such subjects a s salmonella, E-Coli, parasites, botulism and listeria.

Additionally this website provides a mechanism for reporting suspected cases of food poisoning or suspected food-borne illness.

For Maryland victims of food-borne illness the link to the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is: http://www.dhmh.state.md.us/

In the District of Columbia victims of suspected food-related diseases can go to: http://doh.dc.gov/doh/site/default.asp

The bottom-line is that while we may not be able to eliminate food-borne illnesses, there are many mechanisms to report and track them.