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Staphylococcal food poisoning results from eating food contaminated with toxins produced by certain types of staphylococci, resulting in diarrhea and vomiting. This disorder can be caused by toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

Staphylococcus can cause food poisoning when a food handler contaminates food and then the food is not properly refrigerated. Other sources of food contamination include the equipment and surfaces on which food is prepared. These bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature to produce a toxin that causes illness. Staphylococcus is killed by cooking and pasteurization.

People who carry Staph can contaminate food if they don’t wash their hands before touching it. Staph can also be found in unpasteurized milk and cheese products. Because Staph is salt tolerant, it can grow in salty foods like ham. As it multiplies in food, Staph produces toxins.

Although Staph bacteria are easily killed by cooking, the toxins are resistant to heat and so cannot be destroyed by cooking. Foods at highest risk of transmitting Staph toxins are those that people handle and remain uncooked. Food contaminated with Staph toxin may not smell bad or look spoiled.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio personal injury attorney with experience in injuries due to food poisoning. The Lyon Firm has represented plaintiffs nationwide in foodborne illness claims.

Sources of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning

Staphylococci bacteria grow in food and subsequently produce toxins. Staphylococcal food poisoning does not result from ingesting the bacteria but rather from ingesting the toxins made by the bacteria that are present in the contaminated food.

The risk of an outbreak increases when food handlers with skin infections contaminate foods that are undercooked or left at room temperature. Foods that are particularly susceptible are those made with hand contact and require no additional cooking, including:

  • Sandwiches
  • Egg salad
  • Tuna salad
  • Chicken salad
  • Potato salad
  • Macaroni salad
  • Custard and puddings
  • Sliced processed meats
  • Unpasteurized milk and cheese products
  • Bakery products: cream-filled pastries, cream pies, and chocolate éclairs
  • Meat, poultry, eggs, and related products
    To help prevent the spread of illness and disease, some basic sanitary guidelines to follow include:
  • Washing hands vigorously with soap and water before handling and preparing foods
  • Refraining from preparing food when you have a nose or eye infection
  • Refraining from handling or serving food when you have wounds or skin infections on hands or wrists
  • Keeping kitchens and food-serving areas clean and sanitized
  • Keeping hot foods hot (over 140° F) and cold foods cold (40° F or less)
  • Storing cooked food in a wide, shallow container
  • Refrigerating foods as soon as possible

Signs & Symptoms of Staphylococcal Food Poisoning

Symptoms usually begin suddenly with severe nausea and vomiting presenting about 2 to 8 hours after a contaminated food is eaten. Other symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

Severe fluid and electrolyte loss may cause weakness and very low blood pressure. Symptoms usually last from 12 hours to a couple days and recovery is usually complete.

A diagnosis is usually is based on a patient’s symptoms. A specific diagnosis of staphylococcal food poisoning may be suspected when other people who ate the same food are similarly affected and the illness can be traced to a single source of contamination.

To confirm a diagnosis, a laboratory must identify staphylococci in the suspected food. Treatment usually involves drinking plenty of fluids. Occasionally, staphylococcal food poisoning can be fatal in young children, elderly and people weakened by long-term illness.


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Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.


The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Serious injuries and accidents often result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.


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Questions about Food Poisoning Cases

Why Should I File a Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

According to the most recent data collected by the CDC, the majority (64 percent) of serious food poisoning outbreaks are caused by food prepared at restaurants, catering events or banquet facilities.

A legal claim against a company is likely to get a fast settlement if you hire an experience personal injury attorney. Filing a lawsuit indicates to the company that you are prepared to prove with sufficient evidence that their negligence caused a serious illness.

A legal claim also communicates to the company that you have an attorney that is willing to fight the company for however long it takes to win rightful compensation.

Once an injury claim is filed, an attorney can take legal steps to obtain relevant corporate and health department documents to help bolster a food poisoning case. Without a lawsuit, it may be difficult to get important company information. At this point, an attorney can interview restaurant employees, management, and other people involved to get additional information.

If you fall seriously ill, you may not be the only one. You may be part of an outbreak that must be contained for the sake of public health safety. Local health departments should know if you are part of an outbreak. People sickened in an outbreak may be able to seek settlements from the company that owns the restaurant.

Whether you get food poisoning from a restaurant or from contaminated food directly from a distributor, contact an attorney to find out if you have a case to sue for rightful compensation.

How Can I identify My Food Contamination?

Food poisoning occurs when the contaminated food enters the production line — any point during the growing, harvesting, processing, storage, shipping or preparation of the food product. Often cross-contamination and national or international distribution multiply the impacts of a single food outbreak.

The most hazardous culprits include raw foods of animal origin, such as raw meat, poultry, shellfish, uncooked eggs, and unpasteurized milk. Raw fruits and vegetables can also be a concern. Even foods like corn or cereals can contain high levels of mycotoxins, produced by mold on grain.

To protect your legal rights after falling ill from food poisoning, it is important that a medical professional test a urine, blood and stool sample to determine the specific pathogen (bacteria, virus or parasite) that made you sick.

This can narrow down where and how you were affected. Bacterial cells must be sent to a laboratory for genetic testing, and the results will be crucial evidence for a plaintiff. If you have any questions about the important lab testing or legal procedure, contact The Lyon Firm for information.

If the DNA patterns match, this is important evidence that can lead to a successful legal claim. Once you have medical evidence on your side, a personal injury attorney can advise you how to proceed against the negligent party that caused the illness.

Leftover food is sometimes tested to find out if it is contaminated. In some disease outbreaks, lawyers and health officials have gathered leftover food suspected of being the source of an illness. It is important to talk to a lawyer before throwing out leftover food from a restaurant.

How Can I Treat Food Poisoning?

Specific treatment for food poisoning depends on the severity and the source of the illness, if known. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning can last much longer. Treatment may include:

  • Rehydration/replacement of fluids and electrolytes—minerals that maintain the balance of fluids in your body are lost in persistent diarrhea and need to be replaced. Some patients with severe diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive intravenous salts and fluids to treat dehydration.
  • Antibiotics—doctors prescribe antibiotics with certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning. As a general rule, the sooner the treatment begins, the better the results. However, antibiotics may actually worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning so it is crucial to identify the affecting pathogen first.