New Safety Standards Aim To Make Chicken Safer

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ChickenChicken breasts, wings and legs, a staple of American diets, could become safer to eat thanks to new standards proposed by the Agriculture Department that aim to reduce rates of salmonella and campylobacter contamination.

According to an Associated Press news report, the standards would not be mandatory, but voluntary.

Officials say these standards are designed to put pressure on companies to take the necessary steps to reduce contamination and incidents of food poisoning and major outbreaks.

Reduction of Salmonella Rates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the proposed standards could reduce food-borne illnesses caused by raw poultry by about a quarter or 50,000 illnesses a year. Among the measures companies could take to reduce the rates of salmonella and campylobacter are better screening of flocks and better sanitation.

The proposal would ask poultry producers to reduce the rates of salmonella in raw chicken parts from about 24 percent now to less than 16 percent, and campylobacter rates in raw chicken parts from an estimated 22 percent to 8 percent. Salmonella rates would also be reduced in ground chicken and turkey.

Foster Farms Outbreak

These standards come after a lengthy outbreak of salmonella illnesses linked to California chicken company Foster Farms, which sickened more than 600 people between March 2013 and July 2014.

In 2013, USDA inspectors at Foster Farms facilities had documented fecal material on carcasses along with poor sanitation.

Federal food safety officials said the Foster Farms salmonella Heidelberg outbreak spurred these proposed regulations. That outbreak that lasted over 16 months, sickened 634 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico.

In that outbreak, scientists identified seven strains of the bacteria including some that were resistant to antibiotics used to treat humans for illnesses other than salmonella.

Safety Measures Should Be Mandatory

As California personal injury lawyers who represent victims of food poisoning, we sincerely believe that these proposed regulations should be mandatory for all producers and processors of poultry in the United States.

Salmonella and campylobacter illnesses can result in serious and violent illnesses causing victims to be hospitalized. Some severe illnesses could even result in fatalities.

Around 1 million Americans get sick from salmonella each year and almost 20 percent of those illnesses are linked to poultry.

It’s not sufficient for the government to encourage food producers to take these safety measures. They must become enforceable laws.

IKEA Recalls Crib Mattresses For Entrapment Hazard

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Ikea RecallFurniture retailer IKEA has issued a defective product recall for about 169,000 VYSSA crib mattresses for an entrapment risk.

According to a CBS news report, the gap between the mattress and the crib is larger than what is allowed under federal regulations.

These gaps pose a hazard to babies because they could get trapped in between and suffocate.

So far, there have been two reports of infants becoming trapped between the mattress and the crib. Both babies were uninjured.

This recall involves IKEA’s VYSSA style crib mattresses with the following five names: Vackert, Vinka, Spelevink, Sloa and Slummer.

The recalled mattresses were manufactured on May 4, 2014 or earlier. The identification label attached to the mattress cover has the date of manufacturer and the VYSSA model name.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), if a gap between the mattress and crib is larger than two fingers in width, the mattress is defective.

For more information, call IKEA at 1-888-966-4532.

Injuries Caused by Nursery Products

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2012 there were an estimated 77,900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with nursery products among children under 5 years of age. Cribs and mattresses, high chairs, infant carriers and strollers were associated with about 67 percent of the injuries.

For the three-year period between 2008 and 2010, there were 333 deaths associated with nursery products. A majority – 89 percent – of these deaths were linked to cribs or mattresses, bassinets, play pens, car seats and baby baths. The most common cause of death was asphyxia or strangulation.

Using Caution While Buying Baby Products

New parents tend to buy a number of baby items second-hand to save money. Others accept hand-me-downs from friends or relatives or items of sentimental value that are passed down from generation to generation.

When it comes to buying cribs and crib mattresses, experts say, don’t take a chance. Only cribs made after 1992 meet current safety standards. Never buy or accept drop-side cribs. When it comes to crib mattresses, those in older cribs may not fit as tightly as they do in newer cribs.

This can be dangerous because babies could wedged between the mattress and crib edges posing a suffocation hazard. Do not buy any crib mattress that does not fit snugly in your child’s crib.

If your child has been injured as the result of a dangerous or defective product, please contact an experienced product liability lawyer who will guide you in the right direction and give you more information about pursuing your legal rights.

California Apples Linked To Deadly Listeria Outbreak

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Apple RecallA Bakersfield, California, apple-packing plant has recalled all of its Granny Smith and Gala apple shipments from 2014 after they have been linked to an outbreak of listeria in caramel apples that may have caused up to five deaths.

According to an Associated Press news report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bidart Brothers of Bakersfield is recalling apples shipped from its Shafter packing facility last year spurred by a federal investigation of 32 listeria illnesses across 11 states including the five deaths.

Bidart supplied apples for two commercial caramel apple brands that were linked to the food poisoning incidents.

Several Brands Affected

Health officials cautioned consumers last month to avoid prepackaged caramel apples after they were linked to the illnesses. Caramel apples are most popular around Halloween and this outbreak started just before then.

However, the commercially produced apples have a longer shelf life and officials fear they may still remain on store shelves or in people’s homes.

On December 22, Bidart Brothers issued a recall only to customers who produce caramel apples.

The following day, food safety officials inspected the facility, finding listeria present on surfaces likely to come into contact with the apples.

FDA has said some of the recalled apples may be sold under the names and brand names “Big B” and “Granny’s Best” although they could be sold under other brand names or without any brand name.

It would be a good idea for consumers who have recently bought Granny Smith or Gala apples to ask retailers if Bidart supplied them.

So far, several other caramel apple brands such as Happy Apple, Kroger, California Snack Foods and Merb’s Candies, have also issued recalls.

Liability Issues

Listeria is a foodborne illness that can especially harm pregnant women, newborn babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. As we saw in this particular outbreak, listeria infections can be deadly.

Food producers have a legal obligation to keep their manufacturing and processing facilities clean and without contamination. Equipment and locations that come into contact with the food must be kept sanitized at all times.

If you have suffered from food poisoning, you may be able to seek compensation for the responsible parties such as a food manufacturer, producer, distributor, retailer or eatery that served the contaminated food.

Food poisoning victims would be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury attorney who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.

Play Yards Recalled For Strangulation Hazard

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Dream On Me Play Yard RecallThe Dream On Me company has issued a defective product recall for 10,000 children’s play yards because they could pose a strangulation hazard.

According to a WSB-TV news report, the recall includes Dream On Me Incredible two-level deluxe play yards with model number starting with 436A, 436B, 436G, 436O, 436P and 436R.

The play yards are made with a steel, powder-coated frame base with rolling hooded casters and have a fabric and mesh covering that comes in a variety of colors.

Recall Details

The company has issued a statement that the rails of the play yards could collapse, putting children at risk. At this time, no injuries or deaths have been reported.

The products were sold at Amazon, Kohls, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Wayfair and other online retailers from March 2010 through January 2014 for about $60.

The play yards include a changing top, a toy bar with soft bars, a side pocket for storage and a carrying case. Consumers who have these products at home are asked to immediately stop using the recalled play yards and contact the manufacturer to receive a free repair kit.

For more information, call 1-877-201-4317.

Nursery Product Fatalities

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) between 2008 and 2010, there were 333 deaths associated with nursery products among children under 5.

Cribs, mattresses, bassinets, play yards, infant carriers and baby baths were associated with 89 percent of the fatalities reported. Causes of death included positional asphyxia, strangulation and drowning among others.

Product Liability Issues

A number of child deaths and injuries occur each year because of products that are poorly manufactured or dangerously designed. In such cases, the manufacturers of the defective products can be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages caused.

Victims or their families can file what is known as a product liability claim against the manufacturer seeking compensation for damages.

It is also important that consumers stay updated on these recalls that can be found on CPSC’s website. Parents should be especially careful when they accept hand-me-downs or purchase items at yard sales or on Craigslist.

If your child has been injured as a result of a defective or dangerous product, please contact an experienced product liability attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

Prepackaged Caramel Apples Cause Deadly Listeria Outbreak

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Listeria Caramel ApplesHealth officials are warning consumers this holiday season to avoid pre-packaged caramel apples after they have been linked to five deaths and two dozen illnesses in 10 states including California.

According to an NBC Los Angeles the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it knows of 28 cases in which people were sickened with listeria bacteria of which 26 were hospitalized.

Five of those who were hospitalized died. CDC said listeriosis contributed to four of the five deaths.

The agency said 83 percent of those sickened reported eating commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples before falling ill. Three meningitis cases linked to the listeria were also reported in children.

However, the three children were not among the fatalities.

The illnesses were reported between October 17 and November 27. CDC officials said they are still trying to determine the specific brands there were involved in this food poisoning outbreak.

The illnesses occurred in 10 states including Arizona, California, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Danger of Listeria

In 2012, 831 food poisoning outbreaks were reported to CDC. In 2012, there were four confirmed outbreaks and one suspected outbreak of listeriosis in the United States.

The largest listeriosis outbreak in U.S. history occurred in 2011, when 147 illnesses, 33 deaths, and one miscarriage occurred among residents of 28 states.

That outbreak was associated with consumption of cantaloupe from a single farm.

A person who has been infected with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Pregnant women typically experience symptoms such as fatigue and aches. Infections during pregnancy could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

Symptoms for those who are not pregnant could include stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever and muscle aches.

Actions You Can Take

If you have any of these caramel apples at home, please do not consume them. Discard them right away in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trashcan.

If you have eaten them and are experiencing symptoms, please isolate the food for testing in a laboratory.

Wash areas where the cheese was stored in the fridge with hot water and soap. Wash cutting boards, surfaces or utensils that came into contact with the food.

If you developed a fever after eating these or other contaminated products, seek medical care right away.

Report your illness to the local health agency.

Contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases and can help protect your rights.

Bicycle Helmets Recalled For Head Injury Risk

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Bike Helmet Safety RecallThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) along with UVEX Sports has announced a recall of seven models of bicycle helmets because the anchor for the chinstrap can fail.

According to news reports consumers are asked to stop using the recalled products right away because they have the potential to cause riders serious head injuries.

Helmets Could Slide Off

The recall involves seven models of UVEX bike helmets that come in a variety of colors and different colored chinstraps. The helmets also have a model number inside them under the fitting pad on the top right side.

According to CPSC officials, the anchor in the chinstrap can fail causing the helmets to slide off the head and posing an injury hazard. The bicycle helmets also fail to comply with the impact requirement of the CPSC safety standards for bicycle helmets.

So far no injuries or deaths have been reported as a result of these defective products. The helmets included in the recall were sold in bicycle specialty stores nationwide from September 2009 through June 2014 for about $100 to $260.

Consumers should stop using the helmets and contact UVEX for a free compliant helmet or a refund of the purchase price. For more information, call UVEX at 1-844-767-0656.

The Danger of Head Injuries

There are four main types of head injuries. A closed injury does not break open your skull or penetrate brain tissue, but it can cause bruising or swelling of the brain.

An open injury is any damage that penetrates the skull that could cause bleeding within the brain tissue. An open head injury could also lead to skull fractures.

A concussion occurs when the brain is shaken and could lead to severe headaches or loss of consciousness. Scalp wounds may lead to bleeding or tissue damage.

Head injuries may have serious or life-changing consequences depending on the nature and extent of the injury.

If the injury was caused by a defective product, injured victims can file a product liability claim against the manufacturer seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

If a defective product has injured you, make sure you preserve it in its current condition so that an expert can examine it thoroughly for design flaws, defects and other malfunctions.

The best product defect law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

Toyo Recalls Tires for Potential Tread Separation

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Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas, Inc., whose subsidiary is based in Orange County, is issuing a defective product recall for about 175,000 tires for light trucks, SUVs and vans manufactured under its Toyo Tires and Nitto brands due to potential tread or belt separation. According to a news report in the Orange County Business Journal, the Cypress-based subsidiary of Toyo based in Cypress, has said it will replace select Toyo Open Country Tuff Duty tires manufactured between November 2008 and June 2013, and Nitto Dura Grappler Highway Terrain tires manufactured between May 2007 and April 2012.

Ground Beef Products Recalled For Possible E. Coli Contamination

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Ground Beef RecallRanchers Legacy Meat Company is recalling 1,200 pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, according to an alert issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Officials say the products included in the recall are packaged in plastic sealed packets and were produced on November 19, 2014.

These products were shipped nationwide to retailers. USDA officials discovered the contamination during a routine inspection.

So far, there have been no reports of illnesses associated with these products.

Coli Symptoms

Coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps two to eight days after exposure to the organism.

While a number of people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This can occur in all age groups, but is most common in children under 5 and older adults.

Symptoms of HUS include easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output.

Each year, about 48 million Americans, roughly one in six people in the United States, suffer from food-borne illnesses such as norovirus, E. coli, salmonella and listeria, to mention a few.

Eating or drinking a contaminated food or beverage can cause a foodborne illness. A foodborne disease outbreak occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink.

Preventing E. coli Infections

There are several steps you can take to prevent E. coli infections:

  • Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F (70?C). Use a thermometer to verify the temperature. The color of the meat is not a reliable indicator of how thoroughly it has been cooked.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
  • Practice proper hygiene, especially good hand washing.
  • Prevent cross-contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

If you have suffered food poisoning, please isolate the food that made you sick so that it can be tested for pathogens. Get medical attention immediately and report your illness to a local health care agency.

Contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases to better understand your legal rights and options.

Five Million Graco Strollers Recalled For Fingertip Amputation Dangers

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Graco RecallGraco has issued a product defect recall for nearly 5 million Graco and Century baby strollers due to dangerous hinges that can pinch a child’s finger resulting in severe cuts or finger amputation.

According to a CBS news report, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of 4.7 million strollers in the United States, and thousands more that were sold in Canada and Mexico.

Reports of Finger Amputations

The problem with these strollers involves the folding hinge on the sides of the recalled strollers. So far, there have been 11 reports of finger injuries including six fingertip amputations and four partial fingertip amputations.

The strollers were made by Graco and include model names such as Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate Model Strollers and Travel Systems.

They were all produced between August 1, 2000 and September 25, 2014.

The strollers were sold at nationwide retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us as well as online on Those who own these strollers should contact Graco for a free repair kit, which will be available in early December.

Graco is asking that consumers be “extremely careful” when unfolding the stroller and make sure that the hinges are locked in place firmly before placing the child in the stroller.

For more information about this recall, please call 1-800-345-4109.

Be Wary of Recalled Children’s Products

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls hundreds of products each year. If a product is recalled, it must be removed from store shelves. However, recalled products, especially children’s products, can still be found in yard sales or in the second-hand market.

Do not buy a recalled children’s product. Visit the CPSC’s website, for a complete list of product recalls. To find out about recalls as they happen, sign up for free e-mail alerts directly from CPSC’s website.

If your child has been injured as the result of a defective product, please remember that he or she has rights. You can seek compensation on behalf of your child for damages such as medical expenses, permanent injuries, disfigurement, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

In cases where applicable, punitive damages may also be sought against the product manufacture in addition to compensatory damages. An experienced product defect attorney will be able to advise victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.

E. Coli-Tainted Celery Linked To California Farm

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Ecoli Celery OutbreakAn outbreak of E. coli in Minnesota has been linked to celery grown in Gonzales, California.

According to a news report in The Californian, 57 people were sickened and nine were hospitalized as a result of this outbreak. The victims were members of a band of the Lake Superior Chippewa called Fond du Lac.

All victims had consumed potato salad that included celery and onions tainted with E. coli bacteria. Cases were also identified at event where the potato salad was not served but celery was.

The celery has been tracked to a field near a defunct dairy operation near Gonzales.

The caterer common to all five Fond du Lac events between July 1 and July 17 on the reservation was Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering that had purchased the celery from Upper Lakes Foods Inc.

The celery was tracked back to Matignoni Ranch Block 5c outside Gonzales.

Potential Litigation

The food poisoning victims have said they will file a lawsuit against the caterer, but not the grower because there is insufficient evidence. Soil samples from the farm where the celery was grown did not show the presence of the pathogen. However, attorneys for the plaintiffs have said that may change as discovery proceeds and if new evidence comes up.

An investigation also showed that the tainted celery sickened people in Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The Minnesota Department of Health has concluded that the contaminated celery is the “most likely vehicle of transmission.

Although the source of the contamination has not identified, it is still plausible that the celery may have been contaminated during production, officials said.

Compensation for Victims

E.coli infections can have devastating consequences. The most common symptoms are nausea, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and vomiting. In severe cases, E.coli infections could also result in kidney damage.

Victims of food poisoning can seek compensation for damages against the food producer, server, or anyone else involved in the manufacturing process whose negligence may have caused the contamination.

Some of the damages victims can seek in such cases include medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization costs, pain and suffering and emotional distress.

Victims would be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled food poisoning cases.

The best personal injury law firms like Bisnar Chase will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation to injured victims and their families.

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