Employee at Seafood Restaurant Develops Serious Infection

    This case involves an employee of a seafood restaurant who contracted a bacterial infection. The worker helped transport, wash, and prepare lobsters and crabs to be cooked. After receiving a delivery, the plaintiff removed the shellfish from the transport truck and placed the shellfish into storage. After three hours in storage, the plaintiff went to remove the shellfish from it’s food packaging for preparation and cooking, when she cut herself on one of the lobster’s shells. She bandaged the area and continued working. She did not, however, notify her supervisor. The following day, the plaintiff noticed that her hand was extremely swollen, with a significant amount of pain. Upon diagnosis, the plaintiff learned that her arm had become infected by a rare bacteria. She required a hospital stay and had to undergo rigorous antibiotic treatment using Avelox, while missing over two months of work for treatment. As a result, the plaintiff brought suit against the seafood distributor and farmer, claiming that their lobsters carried a strange bacteria.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. In a seafood restaurant setting, how should shellfish be handled in both preparation for storage and cooking?

    Expert Witness Response

    In most restaurants, aside from regulations and statutory considerations, there are specific ways to store shellfish. Because of the increased risk of receiving a cut, a number of measures need to be taken to prevent infection. This would include regular washing of the hands, and regularly cleaning all holding areas (including tanks where shellfish are displayed). Additionally, any injuries need to be reported to senior personnel ASAP, in order to mitigate harm. Lastly, because of the different areas that are involved (location where food is unloaded, storage, preparation area, and kitchen), protective measures, including adequate training and proper equipment for each task, need to be taken.

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