How product liability relates to the food industry

If a person suffers from personal injury or property damage caused by an inappropriate product that is dangerous or unsafe, that person can bring a lawsuit against the company that designed, manufactured, sold, distributed, rented or provided the product.

This means the company can be held liable for injuries suffered by injured people and be legally obliged to pay damages. This is known as product liability. And the law that regulates this type of liability is likely to be called the Product Liability Act.

Here we will discuss product liability in relation to the food industry. Note, however, that this article is just a simplification of a topic that is covered extensively in many books. Additionally, you should keep in mind that product liability laws vary from state to state and country to country, and everything in this article may not coincide with what is happening in your region.

Upon entering the food industry, a company that produces, sells, distributes or packages food is liable for illness, death or property damage caused by food consumers. This may not be the company’s fault but is still liable under the law. If the court establishes a convincing link between the product and the injury or death caused, the company will be sentenced to pay damages to the parties concerned. These losses can run into millions of dollars.

Case study 1 -: A good example of a product liability problem in the food industry is the case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s in 2094. One of the most incredible product liability cases in US history Stella Liebeck accidentally poured hot coffee – bought from McDonald’s – on her lower body and suffered third-degree burns on her thighs, groin and buttocks.

Her lawyers argued that McDonalds served coffee at temperatures between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which was higher than the 140 degrees Fahrenheit temperature at which other companies served coffee. McDonalds was prosecuted for the harm caused, and Liebeck was convicted by a jury of $ 2.7 million in punitive damages of $ US $ 160,000 and medical expenses. Peanuts manufactured and shipped by American Peanut Corporation. As a result, several lawsuits have been filed against the company, which is now bankrupt.

Another food liability case was in 2011, in which 32 people were killed and hundreds injured for eating contaminated melons bought from Jensen Farm in Colorado, USA. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the farm itself, its distributor and food inspector. The lawsuits ran for hundreds of millions of dollars (estimate) and now the company is bankrupt.

Many reputable restaurants and food companies are increasingly involved in product liability lawsuits, citing long-term health problems caused by some people who believe that sick people have bad eating habits. For the most part, there are common sense and personal responsibility involved in these lawsuits.

Analysts have for years discussed the role of personal responsibility and common sense in dealing with product liability and how social cost issues should be addressed, whether through the judiciary or in accordance with the law.

Legal standards applied in food liability cases

So far, product liability suits against actors in the food industry have usually included claims that fall under certain categories, such as: B. Food contamination, beverage bottle explosions and the presence of foreign objects in food.

However, recent cases against food industry actors have expanded these claims to now claim that negligence is linked to the production of unhealthy food. The alleged injuries in these cases are mainly based on the eating habits of the affected consumer and therefore affect the consumer’s role in suspected injury, illness or death.


Undoubtedly, product stewardship is a good thing in the food industry. Companies that manufacture, package, distribute and sell food must ensure that all quality standards are met in the production, storage and sale of food.

However, a common sense problem is addressed: many consumers have died or been injured as a result of unhealthy eating habits for which food manufacturers and distributors should not be held responsible. There often seems to be an urge to file lawsuits and win big awards, as damage drives most lawsuits.

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