Olive Garden, Red Lobster diners take home unwanted guests

Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, is being hit with a large number of lawsuits after hundreds of people in various states contracted a rare parasite linked to one of the restaurant chain’s salad suppliers.

At least 425 claimants in 16 states (including Florida) have been affected by cyclospora, a single-celled organism that causes symptoms like weight loss, gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue and stomach cramps. Sometimes flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever and vomiting are also involved. This illness is generally spread by water or uncooked food that has come into contact with human fecal matter.

Over 200 of these affected diners became ill in the hardest-hit states of Nebraska and Iowa. Twenty-five of these cases occurred in Florida. At least 24 of the claimants have been hospitalized. While bagged salad from Taylor Farms de Mexico is the outbreak’s suspected culprit, some cases have been reported in Texas, where this supplier was not being used. The contaminated salad is no longer within the supply chain.

The FDA and Taylor Farms are both investigating the processing facilities in Mexico to learn more about their food handling practices. One of the plaintiff’s attorneys is critical of both Darden and public health agencies for failing to address this outbreak in a timely manner, saying that the incident was investigated at a “snail’s pace.”

If you feel you have become ill due to an incident of food poisoning or ingesting defective products at a restaurant or other commercially prepared food provider, a personal injury lawyer can help restore justice in your life. You need compensation for medical bills, lost work or school time, and the pain and suffering you experienced due to ingesting contaminated food. In addition, taking legal action helps to set a healthier precedent for safe food handling, which will benefit future diners and the food service industry in general.

Orlando Sentinel, “More lawsuits expected in Darden food-poisoning case” Sandra Pedicini, Aug. 05, 2013