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How Not to Get Sued for Food Poisoning

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on April 09, 2012 8:45 AM

You probably know about social host liability when it comes to serving your guests alcohol, but what about food borne illnesses? Can you be sued for food poisoning?

The answer is yes, so if you made it through the holidays without serving your family and friends a vat of bacteria, good for you.

But don't let that make you complacent. With upcoming summer eating, it's time to be more vigilant than ever.

The obligation to keep your guests free from food poisoning is not meant to scare you -- no one expects you to maintain restaurant-quality food and kitchen standards.

They do, however, expect you to be reasonable, and try your hardest to keep your food bacteria and virus-free. If you fail to do so and someone becomes ill, you may be held liable under negligence law for not meeting your legal responsibilities.

So consider doing the following the next time you invite guests over for a home-cooked meal:

  • Use thermometers to check meat temperatures
  • Research proper heating temperatures
  • Keep food in refrigerator as long as possible
  • Clean vegetables and fruits well
  • Read labels to ensure fresh food
  • Wipe down surfaces with disinfectant before, during and after
  • Wash your hands and utensils after handling meat and seafood

If these and other recommended measures seem daunting, keep in mind that utilizing proper food handling techniques will not only keep your guests safe -- doing so provides you with a great defense should you be sued for food poisoning.

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