Earlier this summer, 17 people became ill after eating at a golf course lunch buffet in Elgin, Illinois known as The Grumpy Goat Tavern. The individuals affected experienced flu-like symptoms including nausea, sweating, body aches, runny nose, dehydration, and fatigue. One of the victims contacted the city health department to conduct an investigation of the restaurant. Once the investigation was complete, the health department declared The Grumpy Goat Tavern to meet sanitation and safety standards. There was no conclusive ruling about whether the food from the buffet actually caused the gastrointestinal disruptions in the individual who became ill because there was no food leftover from the meal in question for the health department to inspect.
Food poisoning can have serious consequences, especially for individuals with weak immune systems. If you experience food poisoning after eating in a restaurant or other public place, you could potentially recover damages for your losses by working with an experienced food poisoning attorney to file and pursue a personal injury claim.
What Does a Health Department Investigation Involve?
When a restaurant or other food vendor is suspected of violating sanitation or food safety standards, the local health department is required to conduct an investigation to determine if any violations actually occurred.
A representative of the health department comes to the restaurant or vendor and inspects the following:
- How food and equipment used to prepare and save food is stored
- Temperatures in the refrigerators and freezers
- The plumbing system and all water sources
- The use of gloves, hairnets, and other sanitary coverings by food preparation staff
- Any chances for cross-contamination that can occur
- Whether food handlers have completed the required food safety course
A health department inspection can occur after an anonymous tip, a request for an inspection, or at the regular intervals that it is required to inspect restaurants and food vendors. This interval depends on whether the restaurant or vendor is considered to be high, medium, or low risk. This determination is made based upon the operation's previous record and its propensity for foodborne illness based on its operational practices. High risk vendors are inspected three times per year, medium risk vendors are inspected once per year, and low risk vendors are inspected every other year. All routine health department investigations in Illinois are performed without prior warning to the vendor's owner or management.
The purpose of a health department investigation is to ensure that a restaurant is practicing safe food handling and storage. If a restaurant fails its inspection, it may have its operation suspended until it corrects the problem.
Food Poisoning Attorneys in Illinois
If you have suffered from a foodborne illness, know your rights. Learn more about these rights and your legal options during your initial consultation with an experienced Illinois food poisoning attorney at the Law Offices of Newland & Newland LLP. If you are suffering, speak up and work with a personal injury attorney. Taking legal action could potentially save hundreds or thousands of others from contracting the same illness that you suffered.