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Foreign Substance in Food

Oregon Attorney for Food Claims based out of Portland


Do I have a case if I find a Foreign Substance / Object in My Food?

If you can prove something unreasonably dangerous in your food  caused injury or illness you likely have an Oregon case.  Below are some examples of complaints we have received in relation to food with analysis:

GLASS IN MY FOOD! If someone bites into a food item and breaks one’s tooth on a piece of glass, metal or some other foreign object there is likely a viable legal case. This is because one would not reasonably expect to have glass or metal laced food.

HAIR IN MY FOOD! Commonly I receive phone calls where a potential client complains of finding something such as hair in one’s food. While finding someone’s hair in one’s food is disgusting, it does not rise to the level of a lawsuit, unless one can prove injury as a result of the foreign object or substance.  For instance, if someone choked on hair in their food and required medical attention, there may be a legal case.  Emotional distress without an associated injury generally does not give rise to a lawsuit, unless one can prove that someone put something in one’s food with the intent of causing severe emotional distress and one actually suffered extreme emotional distress.

A BONE IN MY T-BONE STEAK?  Would a jury find a large bone in a T-bone steak unreasonably dangerous?  Probably not. In Oregon one must prove that a substance in food was unreasonably dangerous beyond what an average consumer would expect.  See UCJI No. 48.03.

FOOD BORN ILLNESS:  If you can document your were sold food that caused you to become ill  you may have a claim  based upon Oregon’s Implied Warranty of Merchantability and Implied Warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.  See ORS 72.3140 and ORS 72.3150.  In 1974, the Oregon Supreme Court held it was unnecessary to prove a restaurant owner negligent.  It was enough to show that a restaurant owner should have known of the bad condition of the food and was negligent in serving it.  See Gardyjan v. Tatone, 528 P.2d 1332 (Or. 1974).  Later cases concluded that strict liability applies in product liability to sellers of defective products.  This means that if you can prove that you were sold bad food, the seller is liable even if the seller did nothing wrong, provided that the consumer did nothing wrong.  See  UCJI No 48.01.  Also see, Johnston v. Water Sausage Corp, 83 Or App 637, 641.