Food-borne illness cases generally involve strict liability. If a plaintiff can show illness and a causational link between the illness and adulterated food produced by the defendant, the defendant generally will be liable for damages proven by the plaintiff. In defense of first-party injured-plaintiff claims, negligence and the standard of care employed by the defendant is frequently irrelevant to issues of liability.
Because the defendant food seller’s actions may not be relevant, litigated issues frequently center on “causation” (i.e. was the plaintiff’s alleged illness caused by the defendant’s product). From the defense perspective, the plaintiff’s deposition and discovery of plaintiff’s food history and other possible sources of exposure are often key to assessing causation. Oregon’s “shotgun questionnaire” used by its public health investigators provides a great outline.