Unfortunately, the manufacture and preparation of food is not always perfect, which means that in rare instances foreign objects such as pebbles or glass may find their way into your meal.  If you are injured by a foreign object in your food, whether it is the fault of the manufacturer of the ingredients or the preparer of the meal, you may be able to sue for your injuries. 

What Is Considered a Foreign Object?

In personal injury cases, foreign objects in food would be things that are not reasonably expected to be found by a consumer during consumption. For example, things like stones, rocks or pebbles, glass, or sharp objects may wind up in food. Also, some ingredients that are not supposed to be in some foods or were not listed as an ingredient and the consumer did not expect it would be considered a foreign object. However, courts have been strict on to providing recovery just because any type of foreign object has been found in food. For example, claims have been rejected for objects that can reasonably be anticipated in food, such as fish bones in soup or cherry pits in cherries.

What Is a Restaurant’s Liability for Foreign Objects Found in Food?

Restaurants have to follow all state, county, and municipal health regulations. When restaurants violate safety regulations such as having a foreign object in food, the authorities can fine the restaurant or shut them down temporarily or permanently. Restaurants serving the public are held to a very high legal duty of care and obligation not to unduly harm their customers. This means restaurant owners must do everything that they can to make sure their customers don't get injured while dining at their restaurant. If a guest dining at a restaurant is injured chewing or choking on a foreign object in the restaurant, the restaurant can be held liable for the injury even if the restaurant did not know that the object is present. 

What Types of Objects are allowed in Prepared Foods?

While certain things in food can cause injury, courts have not allowed lawsuits for objects that can be reasonably anticipated to be in food.  For example, if you are injured by fish bones found in a salmon dinner, you cannot sue for your injuries because it's reasonable for there to be bones in salmon. You also cannot sue if you are not actually injured by the object.  For example, a hair in food is a foreign object, but you cannot sue over a hair if you are not actually injured by it. 

Common Injuries that a Court Will Award Money Damages

If you do find an unexpected object in your food, you may be able to sue for your injuries.  Typical injuries that the courts award damages for include:

  • Cuts in the mouth and throat and damaged teeth
  • Illness due to ingestion of the object
  • Allergic reactions by ingredients that were not supposed to be in the food
  • Lacerations by sharp objects found in the food that were not expected by the customer

What Can Help if You Have Been Injured?

If you have been injured by a foreign object in your food there are certain things you can do to help your lawsuit:

  • If possible, keep the object that actually caused you injury
  • Proof or witnesses that can verify that the food was prepared by the other party, such as a restaurant, caterer or manufacturer, and was not tampered with by anyone else
  • Medical and dental records that show the injury was not present before the incident

What Evidence Do I Need To Prove I Have Been Injured?

If a foreign object has injured you, you may have a claim against the restaurant or food preparer. You must prove that the restaurant or food preparer was negligent when serving you the food. You must have sufficient evidence to prove that the restaurant was negligent and also that the negligence was the direct and proximate cause of your injury. The evidence that you can show to prove this is: 

  • Was the injury foreseeable by the owner?
  • Did the owner fail to take reasonable care?
  • Did the foreign object directly cause your injury?
  • Did you actually suffer real damages?

Do I Have To Actually Get Injured?

Yes. In order In order to recover for a negligence case if you found a foreign object in your food, you must prove that you actually suffered some type of damage. By just having foreign objects in your food is not enough evidence. This means that you have to have suffered some type of injury that has negatively impacted you. This may include evidence of having to get medical treatment or see a doctor due to being traumatized. There is also lost wages, medical costs, and pain and suffering are other types of damages that can be related to your claim.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?

States differ in what they allow in prepared foods.  An attorney can help determine if the injury causing object would be allowed in prepared food according to your state's laws.  States also vary when awarding damages but most try to base the damages on the severity of the injury.  A personal injury attorney can help you estimate the cost of your injuries and represent you in court.