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Foreign Objects Contamination Lawyer

Recalls happen for a variety of reasons.  Most of the time a recall is initiated due to some form of contamination.  Usually when we think food contamination, we think biological.  The most common foodborne illness is Salmonella, a harmful bacterium, though Norovirus is another that may come to mind.  While biological contamination (such as Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli, Botulinum toxin, etc.) is one reason a food product might be recalled; there are several other reasons a food product may be recalled, like recalls for foreign objects.

If you have consumed a product that was recalled for foreign material contamination and have fallen ill, contact our foreign object contamination lawyers. The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is dedicated to helping victims recover the compensation they deserve. You may be eligible to collect damages through a foreign objects contamination lawsuit.

Why Choose Our Foreign Objects Contamination Lawyer?

Our firm understands how an unexpected injury or illness can affect your life and those of your loved ones. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of foreign object contamination victims and will work hard to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve. A few of the reasons why clients choose to work with The Lange Law Firm, PLLC include:

  • Our significant experience securing millions in compensation for our clients.
  • We thoroughly understand the laws and regulations governing product liability and can advise you on what to do to protect your rights and maximize your compensation.
  • We have a reputation for providing personalized, attentive service to our clients, so you can rest assured that your case will be handled with the utmost care and attention.

We offer free consultations. Call (833) 330-3663 or send us a message online to arrange one with our foreign objects contamination lawyer today.

How Can an Attorney Help?

Having a foreign objects contamination attorney who is prepared to take your case to trial can be extremely beneficial. It demonstrates to the insurance company or responsible party that you are serious about pursuing your claim and are willing to fight for your rights. This can also give you leverage during negotiations, which often leads to a better settlement offer. Additionally, an attorney can help in the following ways:

  • Investigation: A lawyer can investigate the incident and gather evidence to determine who is responsible for the foreign object in your food or beverage. They can also work with experts to establish the extent of your damages and the cause of your injuries.
  • Legal advice: An attorney can provide legal advice on your rights and options and help you understand the legal process.
  • Negotiations: Your lawyer will handle all communication and negotiations with insurance companies, manufacturers, or other parties to obtain a fair settlement for your injuries.
  • Protection of your rights: It is important to approach dealings with insurance companies with caution, as their ultimate goal is to make a profit. An attorney can protect your legal rights and help ensure that you are treated fairly by insurers, manufacturers, or other parties.

In the event that negotiations do not result in a settlement, your attorney will have already been preparing your case for trial. Preparation involves a significant amount of work and can take several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the case.

What Damages Can I Recover?

In a foreign object contamination case, damages may be available to the injured party. Damages is a legal term referring to the monetary compensation awarded to a plaintiff (victim) in a civil lawsuit for the injuries or losses they have suffered as a result of the defendant’s (at-fault party’s) wrongful conduct. Available damages may include:

  • Medical expenses: This includes the current and anticipated future costs for medical treatment related to the injury or illness caused by the foreign object contamination, such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, etc.
  • Lost income: If you are unable to work due to the injury or illness, you may be entitled to compensation for current and future lost wages.
  • Diminished earning capacity: If your injury or illness leaves you unable to earn at the same level as before, you may be able to recover compensation for diminished earning capacity.
  • Pain and suffering: This includes compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
  • Disfigurement or disability: If the injury results in permanent scarring, disfigurement, or disability, you may be entitled to compensation for these losses.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish the responsible party for their actions or to deter similar behavior in the future.

The amount of damages available in a foreign object contamination case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity of the injury, its impact on your life, and the degree of negligence or recklessness on the part of the responsible party. An experienced attorney can help determine the extent of your damages and an estimate of the amount of compensation you can recover.

Do I Have a Case?

Most foreign objects contamination cases are based on the legal theory of strict liability. This is a type of legal claim that allows a plaintiff (victim) to hold a defendant (at-fault party) liable for damages without having to prove fault or negligence on the defendant’s part. Instead, strict liability is based on the idea that certain products are inherently dangerous and pose a risk of harm to others. Therefore, you may have a foreign objects contamination case if you can prove the item you consumed was contaminated and medical records indicate it resulted in your harm.

If other people also became ill or were injured by the same product, it may be an indication of a larger scale problem that has or will lead to a recall, which can make proving your case much easier. Whether it is worth it for you to pursue a foreign objects contamination case depends on various factors, such as the severity of your injury or illness, the extent of your damages, and the strength of evidence against the defendant.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

The statute of limitations for a foreign objects contamination case will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of claim being pursued. In general, these cases fall under product liability law, and the statute of limitations can range from one to six years, depending on the state where the incident occurred. This time limit typically begins to run from the date of the injury or the discovery of the injury.

If you miss the deadline, you may be barred from pursuing your claim. The defendant can raise the fact that the statute of limitations has expired as a defense in court, and the judge will likely dismiss your case. In other words, you will lose your right to recover compensation. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a qualified attorney who can advise you on the appropriate statute of limitations for your particular case.


Here are some ways recalls are initiated, including those for foreign objects:

Lack of Inspection at Port of Entry

When food products are imported into the United States, they must be inspected at the Port of Entry. Some countries are not allowed to import certain foods into the United States due to established risk factors.  Sometimes these products slip through the cracks and are discovered at a later inspection.  If the un-inspected or illegal product has made its way into American consumer hands, the product must be recalled.

Lack of USDA Inspection

Most meat products require inspection from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Beef and poultry products require an inspector present at slaughter if they plan to resale the meat.  A product without this required inspection is subject to recall.

Deviation from Protocol

Sometimes shelf-stable foods are at risk from deviation from protocol. This involves heating temperature or time in most cases.  When a company reviews their records and discovers a problem, they will recall affected product in the hopes that any product that might be contaminated or subject to contamination are taken back before anyone becomes sick.

Foreign Objects

A food product that contains foreign objects – an unintended non-food product is subject to recall as it may cause bodily harm to the consumer. This could be anything from bone fragments, to glass, plastic, metal pieces, or some other hard or sharp object that ends up in the food product and shipped out to consumers.

Foreign objects can be classified in two ways: intrinsic – referring to something naturally occurring in the food product such as bones, stems, or pits OR extrinsic – referring to objects that are not normally found in food such as metal or plastic.

Sources of Contamination

There 5 basic sources of foreign objects contamination ranging from the farm production to the consumer.

  1. From the Farm – Foreign objects from the fields at the farm may make its way into the final product. Items such as stones, metal, insects, undesirable vegetable matter (thorns, wood, etc.), dirt, small animals.
  2. Processing and Handling – Various parts of processing and handling provide opportunities for both intrinsic and extrinsic objects to find their way into the food product. Bone, glass, metal, wood, nuts, bolts, screening, cloth, grease, paint chips, rust, and other objects that might come in contact with the food during processing and handling may stay in the finished product.
  3. Distribution – The distribution step is also vulnerable. Care must be used to avoid exposure to possible foreign material contaminants that might fall into or become mixed in food products.  Foreign objects such as insects, metal, dirt, or stones could be introduced during distribution and transportation of food products.
  4. Employee Sabotage – Occasionally an employee may commit a serious offense and intentionally place a foreign material in food. Cases of employee sabotage are rare and subject to legal action, but could be a source of foreign material contamination.
  5. Other Miscellaneous Material – Struvite (naturally occurring crystallization) in the food products and other objects in this class are other rare forms of foreign material contamination.

Defect Action Levels

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the FDA Health Hazard Evaluation Board evaluated approximately 190 cases of such hard or sharp foreign objects in food from 1972 to 1997.  Data drawn from those cases lead the board to determine that objects that are less than 7 mm (maximum dimension) rarely cause trauma or serious injury outside of special risk groups – infants, surgery patients, and the elderly.  Additional scientific and clinical literature was gathered to support this conclusion.  As a result, the board established Defect Action Levels for unavoidable defects that are smaller than the elevated risk of 7 mm.

Some food products naturally have hard or sharp components in them.  Take bones in seafood or shells in nut products for example.  The board determined that these types of foreign objects, though not edible or intended to be consumed in the food, are unlikely to cause injury due to consumer expectation of potential contamination of those particular products.  One exception was noted, however.  When the food label indicated that the hard or sharp component had been removed from the food such as pitted olives, if the food contained pit fragments it would more likely cause injury as it was no longer expected.  The FDA established those Defect Action Levels for these types of unavoidable defects in their Compliance Policy Guides.

These levels are assessed based on risk factor and nature of potential foreign material contaminant and specific for each food type and expectation level.  Defect Action Levels have come under fire in the past, as they give food producers a pass on including potentially harmful objects in their food products.

Potential Injuries from Consuming Food Contaminated with Foreign Objects

Quite a bit can go wrong when a person consumes something that is not meant for consumption.  Metal shavings, hard plastic pieces, glass shards each have their own risk factors.  The most common foreign material reported based on FDA consumer complaints that resulted in illness or injury was glass.  Where the hard or sharp object ends up will also determine what type of injury is possible.

Digestive Tract

Consuming food contaminated with hard or sharp foreign objects may cause serious injury to parts of the digestive tract that it comes in contact with.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Esophageal laceration (a tear or cut that does not penetrate the walls of the esophagus)
  • Esophageal perforation (a tear or cut that results in a hole in the walls of the esophagus)
  • Fistula formation (two tissues fuse together as a result of injury)
  • Laceration or perforation of the pharynx, stomach, and/or intestine

Mouth and Teeth

The mouth and teeth may become injured or damaged as a result of consuming hard or sharp foreign objects.  These injuries include, but are not limited to:

  • Lacerations of the mouth
  • Lacerations of the tongue
  • Chipped teeth
  • Broken fillings
  • Damage to prosthetics

Other Hazards

  • Lacerations on the hands that may occur while handling or preparing food
  • Other illness such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, dizziness, and/or chest pain

The most common injury reported based on FDA consumer complaints was mouth or throat lacerations.

What Can Food Producers Do to Minimize Foreign Material Contamination?

Food producers have many opportunities to intervene and minimize foreign material contamination risk.  In fact, these interventions should be a part of any food producers Risk Assessment.  Some activities include the following: supplier approval programs, pest management, glass and brittle plastic controls, cleaning and sanitation programs, building management, preventative maintenance programs, pallet management, equipment and utensils, personnel hygiene, and having Standard Operating Procedures.

Supplier Approval Programs

By being picky on where food manufacturers source their food supplies, they have a greater chance of getting foods free from foreign material contamination. Food manufacturers may mandate that suppliers pass certain criteria that will rule out contamination by foreign objects.  These requirements may include passing the product through a metal detector or screen prior to packaging.  This may not work 100% of the time, but requiring a supplier to be as vigilant as the manufacturer is a big first step.

Pest Management

Pest management is an important part of any food manufacturing facility. While insect parts might not make someone sick, it is certainly not a good idea to have in your final product.  An appropriate pest management program must be in place.  Many raw agricultural commodities are received outdoors – that is where they come from.  Birds, insects, and rodents are a consistent concern.  Proper sanitation in the environment and interventions such as washing will minimize the risk of pest or pest parts ending up in the final product.

Glass and Brittle Plastic Controls

A proactive control for glass and brittle plastics is essential to minimizing foreign material contamination. No glass or ceramic products should be used in the food processing area or warehouse at any time.  For large manufacturing plants, strict adherence is required.  Windows and light fixtures should be shatterproof or covered with plastic to contain any breakage.  If glass is required for production, a thorough inventory of glass products should always be maintained.

Cleaning and Sanitation Programs

Cleaning and sanitation are obvious ways to minimize risk of foreign material contamination. Less obvious, however is hat the cleaning and sanitizing program must also include inspection of the equipment as it is being cleaned.  Damaged equipment, no matter how clean, can generate foreign material contamination.

Building Management

A facility that is in good physical condition will help minimize product contamination with foreign material. Older facilities pose an increased challenge as they may contain wooden ceilings or floors that require painting or sealing.  Leaks may cause a contamination event.  Old, peeling paint might make its way into the final product.  For this reason, building maintenance issues must be identified and maintained regularly.

Preventative Maintenance Programs

While preventative maintenance might be the least appreciated it helps keep equipment operating properly and protects the company’s assets. Proper preventative maintenance can help prevent loss of nuts, bolts, blades in cutters, and any other piece from equipment from breaking or coming loose, leading to foreign material contamination.

Pallet Management

Pallets can get dirty. And gross.  They are the surface that keeps the product together, but also touches the ground instead of the product.  When moved around from place to place and holding different types of items, they can be a source for both biological contamination and foreign material contamination when they become damaged.  Pallets should be inspected, stored appropriately, and cleaned.  Splintered or broken pallets with loose boards or nails should be set aside for repair or recycling.

Equipment and Utensils

Equipment and utensils should be properly cleaned, maintained, sanitized, and inspected to ensure that they are not a source of contamination. Breaking or broken equipment can become lost in the food product, leading to foreign material contamination.

Personnel Hygiene

Personnel hygiene is a huge part of contamination management. This applies to biological and foreign objects:

  • Employees should be dressed in clean clothing appropriate for work.
  • No jewelry should be worn in the production area (the only exception made by the heath department is a plain gold wedding band)
  • Hairnets must be worn and cover all hair and ears.
  • Bearded employees must wear beard nets when working in the production area. This applies to mustaches as well.

Standard Operating Procedures

Each manufacturer should have Standard Operating Procedures that are implemented every day. This could apply to how the product is made, how equipment is used, and how maintenance is performed.

What Should I Do If I Have Consumed Foreign Objects?

Generally, ingested foreign objects will pass naturally through the digestive system somewhere between 4 to 7 days in about 80 to 90% of cases.  It is estimated that around 1 to 5% of foreign material contamination cases will result in injury.

According to the FDA Compliance Policy Guide, sharp objects between 7 and 25 mm found in Ready-to-Eat foods are dangerous and meet the “criteria for direct reference seizure.”  Their criteria for recommending legal action was very specific.  If the food product requires additional preparation (not ready-to-eat) hard or sharp objects must be between 7 and 25 mm in size.  This drops to anything less than 7 mm if the product is intended for special-risk groups such as children and the elderly.  Anything over 25 mm in length also falls under this recommendation without any stipulations.

Always contact your health care provider if you feel you have consumed something contaminated with a foreign material.  If you have consumed a product that was recalled for foreign material contamination, it is a good idea to see your health care provider to be sure that no injury took place. After receiving medical attention, contact us. Our foreign object contamination lawyers offer free consultations.