Foreign objects are found in food products rather frequently, and they can cause serious injuries and even death to unsuspecting consumers. With millions of tons of food that’s processed and packaged in the U.S., there’s a distinct possibility that food manufacturers and suppliers won’t catch all foreign objects that slip into foods. Items including glass, plastic, paper, small pebbles, rocks, and stones have been found in food. Even human body parts have been reportedly found in foods by consumers.
Tainted Food Products
Foreign objects that are hard or sharp pose the greatest dangers, especially risk of injury to children. Hard objects like small rocks and bone fragments can chip or break teeth, while sharp objects can cause lacerations to the gums, mouth, throat, and esophagus. If ingredients are left off the packaging or foods are produced were other products, allergic reactions can occur.
Bel Brands USA Inc. recently issued a nationwide recall on its 14-ounce Port Wine flavor of Merkts cheese spread due to a number of consumer complaints alleging finding plastic pieces in the product. Although there were no reported cases of injuries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised all consumers who purchased the cheese spread to immediately discard the product.
Recovering Damages for Injuries
Courts consider foreign objects to be any substances not reasonably expected to be the food that is consumed. Although finding foreign objects in food can cause physical and emotional injuries, courts are reluctant to award damages for injuries, especially in food products that naturally contain substances that are not meant to be ingested such as cherry pits in cherries and fish bones.
Recovering damages for injuries caused by foreign objects in food requires proof that the manufacturer or supplier was negligent, meaning that a duty of care was breached. The victim must show proof of his/her injuries supported by medical treatment from a hospital or physician. Medical records can prove that the injury did not exist prior to consumption. For further proof, the victim should retain the foreign object, so it can be analyzed for evidence to support a personal injury claim. When false claims of injury are alleged against a business, the business may also file a claim to recover damages for lost customers and sales.