Massachusetts Food Poisoning and Food Allergy Lawyer

Massachusetts Injury Lawyers with over 60 Years Combined Experience Representing Those Injured by Food Poisoning and Food Allergies

At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we have many years of experience representing both adults and children who suffer food poisoning or food allergy illness requiring medical care as a result of the negligence of restaurants when dining out or with other food establishments with take-out orders. These cases require attention to the details and the gathering of important information and documents to prove the claims against the restaurants that failed to serve safe food to its customers. Our firm offers a free initial consultation.  If you or a loved one suffered food poisoning or illness due to exposure to a food allergy while dining out or with a takeout order at a restaurant or other food establishment, contact us at 617-674-7640 to speak with an experienced Cambridge food poisoning and food allergy lawyer at Nadeau Harkavy LLC for a free no obligation consultation.

When you dine out in a restaurant or order take out from a local food establishment, the last thing you expect is to become ill from the food you consume and require medical attention.  You expect the food to be safe and not harm you. Restaurants have a responsibility to the public to serve safe food and may be held liable if they are negligent.  If you or a loved one has been harmed due to food poisoning or suffering an allergic reaction to food served, you can bring a personal injury claim against a restaurant if they deviated from the acceptable standard of care in the food service industry.

Food Poisoning

According to the Mayo Clinic, food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is illness caused by eating contaminated food. The most common causes of food poisoning are from infectious organisms or their toxins.  This may include parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Food may become contaminated during processing or production.

Food poisoning symptoms often include diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, fever, or abdominal pain. The symptoms can occur within hours of eating the contaminated food or may start days later. Contamination can occur during production from the growing, harvesting, storing, shipping, or preparing the food. Cross contamination is often the cause meaning the harmful organisms are transferred from one surface to another.

There are risk factors depending on the amount of the food poisoning exposure, your health, and your age.  Pregnant women, infants and young children, older adults and people with chronic disease may reduce your immune system’s response. Dehydration may occur. Listeria infection and E. coli can cause serious complications.

Food Allergies

The Mayo Clinic defines a food allergy as an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a small amount of allergy causing food may trigger symptoms such as hives, swollen airways, and digestive problems. In some people, a food allergy can cause severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction.

Approximately 8% of children under the age of 5 and 4% of adults have food allergies. Some children outgrow them as they get older. Food intolerance is different than a food allergy. Food intolerance does not involve the immune system and is less serious. Symptoms from food allergies vary from person to person. For some, an allergic reaction may not be severe and may be uncomfortable. For others, it can be life threatening and frightening.

Food allergy symptoms typically develop a few minutes to 2 hours after eating the offending food. Some of the most common food allergy symptoms are:

-swelling of face, tongue, throat, and lips

-abdominal pain


-vomiting or diarrhea

-dizziness, lightheaded, fainting

-itching in the mouth

-hives and itching.

For some people, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur and may be life threatening. Symptoms include a swollen throat or feeling of lump in the throat making it difficult to breathe, tightening of airways, rapid pulse, dizziness, lightheaded or loss of consciousness, shock with severe blood pressure drop.  Emergency treatment is needed. If not treated, it could result in a coma or death.

Massachusetts Restaurant Awareness Laws

Massachusetts was the first state in the United States to pass restaurant awareness laws. Massachusetts is a state that has laws to make it safer for an individual to dine in a restaurant. In 2010, news media broadcasted the fact that food allergies were on the rise in the US. In February 2010, Massachusetts was the first state to officially place the responsibility on the restaurants when addressing food allergies. Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai worked on the law to pass the bill to make restaurants safer for those with food allergies.  This was personal to him as the father of a child with food allergies. Chef Ming Tsai is the National Spokesperson for the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). For years, Chef Tsai owned and operated Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA.  He now owns and operates the Blue Dragon Restaurant in the Fort Point channel area of Boston.  Chef Ming Tsai simply states the law as follows:

“If you are in the restaurant industry, it’s your duty to serve everyone safe food.”

This quote can be viewed as the foundation of the law in Massachusetts holding restaurants responsible for the harm caused by serving the wrong food to paying customers. Restaurants could no longer turn a blind eye to customers with food allergies and had an affirmative duty, a responsibility, to serve safe food to customers. The laws implemented created simple, inexpensive measures to make dining safe for those with food allergies.

The Massachusetts Restaurant Association (The MRA) details the Massachusetts Allergy Law as follows:

All restaurants and food service operations are required to comply with:

  1. Food allergy training requirements for food certified managers to obtain a food allergy certificate every 5 years. They are required to watch a 30-minute online training video to obtain a training certification.
  2. Each establishment must display an educational poster in the employee staff area concerning food allergy awareness.
  3. The menu and menu boards must have notice with a statement saying:“Before placing your order, please inform your server if a person in your party has a food allergy.”
The laws in Massachusetts for food allergy awareness can be found at M.G.L. Chapter 140, section 6B.
How Do You Win a Personal Injury Case Against a Restaurant or Other Food Service Establishment in Massachusetts for Food Poisoning or Food Allergy Harm?

Cases against restaurants and food service typically focus on a theory of liability that shows the restaurant and or its employees were negligent. Negligence requires the proof of the following:

  1. The restaurant had a duty to the customer injured;
  2. The restaurant breached this duty;
  3. The restaurant is the cause, known as proximate cause, of injuries; and
  4. The injured party suffered damages.

These cases usually involve one of the following scenarios:

  1. a customer served the wrong food.
  2. There is cross-contamination and an allergic reaction.
  3. Restaurant worker provides a customer with inaccurate information about food ingredients.
In summary, a restaurant, food shop or café that does not take the proper steps for the well-being of its customers may be held responsible.

Typically, in our law firm handling food allergy cases, we see:

  1. Our client had an allergic reaction
  2. The allergic reaction was due to the food served by the food establishment or restaurant
  3. The restaurant failed to take reasonable care in serving our client
  4. As a result, our client suffered a reaction and was harmed
  5. Our client suffered damages due to the wrongdoing by the food establishment or restaurant.

What Can You Recover Compensation for If You Suffer An Allergic Reaction or Food Poisoning Due to the Careless Practices of a Restaurant or Other Food Shop?

Typical recovery for food allergy and food poisoning cases includes the following:

  1. Medical Bills Incurred
  2. Lost Income or lost wages from work
  3. Pain and suffering.

In terms of valuing a case, every case is different, and every client’s situation is unique.  The nature and duration of the symptoms is considered. The medical care required such as emergency room care, follow up with your primary care doctor and other medical specialists is an important factor.  The injuries you suffered due to ingesting the allergy causing food and any disability is also a primary consideration in determining the amount of compensation you will receive.  It is usually the restaurant’s insurance company that pays your claim and evaluates your case.

What Restaurants Need to Do or Risk Being Held Responsible for Harm Caused to a Customer

Restaurant employees need proper training regarding food allergies. It could mean the difference between life and death.  The number of people in the US with food allergies has increased. The staff in a restaurant or employee in food services needs to know how to proceed if the customer/diner informs them that they have a food allergy.

Restaurant workers need to know how to prevent cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is when one food comes in contact with another food.

Serving Safe Food Should Be the Number One Priority of any Food Shop, Café or Restaurant

The top 8 food allergies are:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree Nuts
  5. Wheat
  6. Soy
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish.

These 8 food allergies comprise 90% of all food allergies.

According to, 1 in 25 people have a food allergy and this is approximately 4% of the population. There are 150-200 deaths per year from food allergies. Half of these deaths occur in food service operations. Whether it is a restaurant in the city or a local café or food shop, serving safe food should be the number one priority. If you or a loved one has suffered an illness due to food poisoning or food allergic reaction, first make sure to get the appropriate medical care.  Then, contact Nadeau Harkavy LLC to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation.

At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we have over 60 years combined experience representing injured people and their families when they have been injured at the hands of someone else’s wrongdoing. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients over the years to help them get on with their lives after suffering the consequences of a serious accident.  We make sure everything is done to protect your interests while you and your family concentrate on getting better. We handle food poisoning and food allergic reaction cases as well as all types of accident cases including wrongful death, car accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, trip and fall, slip and fall, dog bite, construction site, brain injury and catastrophic injury accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed as a result of another’s wrongdoing, call us today for a free consultation about your legal rights at 617-674-7640.

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Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers

Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers with over 60 Years Combined Experience Representing Those Injured in Accidents.

Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we handle the following types of personal injury cases:

Bicycle Accident
Car Accident
Child Injury
Construction Site
Dog Bite & Attack
Liquor Liability
Motorcycle Accident
Premises Liability
Slip & Fall
Traumatic Brain Injury
Truck Accident
Personal Injury
Wrongful Death
Food Poisoning & Allergy