The Dangers of Undercooked Foods

Undercooked food is one of the most common ways that food borne diseases are spread. Most raw foods, particularly animal products, must be cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria that may be present. Meats, for example, have an optimal internal temperature to which they should be cooked to minimize the risk of illness. When bacteria on foods are not completely eliminated, there is a chance that they could infect the consumer and cause a serious illness. Restaurants and other places that prepare food have a responsibility to serve clean, fully cooked food to their customers. When they fail to cook foods to the appropriate temperatures, they may be liable for any illnesses that result.

Food Borne Disease & Sources of Infection

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 76 million cases of food poisoning occur every year in the United States, affecting about 20-25% of the population annually. Of these cases, about 5,000 people are estimated to die from food borne disease each year. Some of the most common sources of infection are animal products, including turkey, beef, chicken, pork, eggs, and seafood. These products may become infected with bacteria while they are being processed. In the U.S., two types of bacteria that frequently cause infection are E. coli and Salmonella. The full cooking process destroys any bacteria that may have colonized on food products, rendering them safe to eat.

Recommended Internal Cooking Temperatures

Each type of product has a different optimal temperature for killing latent bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists the following internal temperatures as the threshold for being safe to consume:

  • Chicken: 165 F
  • Egg products: 160 F
  • Fish: 145 F
  • Ground beef: 160 F
  • Pork: 160 F
  • Steaks: 145 F

Consequences of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is incredibly unpleasant for most people but typically lasts for only 1-2 days. For some however, a more severe case of food poisoning can cause a serious illness or even death. Children, the elderly, and others with weaker immune systems are more likely to develop severe food borne illness. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a high fever. An individual who falls seriously ill may be burdened with costs for extensive treatment, hospital stays, rehabilitation, medication, lost wages from time off of work, and pain and suffering.

If you or someone you love has fallen ill or suffered a wrongful death from a food borne illness caused by undercooked food, a food establishment may be liable and your family may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.

For More Information

To learn more about the risks associated with undercooked foods and food poisoning liability, please visit the website of the experienced Waukesha personal injury lawyers Habush, Habush & Rottier, S.C. today.