Please see my recently-published article in Plaintiff Magazine regarding the liability standards that apply in California for food-related personal injuries.
The Mexicali Rose decision allows plaintiffs to state some previously non-cognizable negligence claims against restaurants that serve injury-causing food. Mexicali Rose v. Sup. Ct. (Clark), 1 Cal.4th 617, 621 (1992) (“Mexicali Rose”). However, if the injury resulted from a substance that was “natural to the preparation of the food,” then strict liability and breach of warranty claims remain barred. Id. at 630.
In light of food processing and safety changes that have occurred since this 1992 decision, the artificial, vague, and unworkable distinction between foreign and purportedly natural substances should be overruled. A fair measure of justice should be available for all consumers, based on their reasonable expectations for the food served.
“Do you really know what kind of fish you’re eating?” And why that’s such an important question?
As recently reported in Food Safety News, food fraud (by way of species substitution) presents more than a risk of ripping off consumers. Pregnant women may be unwittingly exposed to toxins, gastric distress, and allergens from consuming seafood that is not what it purports to be. Honest employees of fishing companies, distributors, and retailers that sell genuine products can lose sales and their jobs.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recently asked the FDA to increase its efforts to reduce seafood mislabeling. For bad actors, increased “traceability and enforcement . . . from bait to plate” presents risks of criminal prosecution and civil damages from class action litigation. However, for seafood companies that adopt best practices, it also provides promotional and marketing opportunities.