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New York cottage food industry: Who is liable?

Home-cooked meals are supposed to be good for you, but New York has strict laws for those who want to run a business out of their kitchen. Homemade food can only be sold at food stands, farmer’s markets, and similar outlets, such as flea markets or agricultural fairs: selling online is illegal. “Cottage food industry” sellers are also not allowed to make and sell:

  • Breads with fruit or vegetables, such as banana or zucchini bread
  • Cakes that need to be refrigerated, such as cheesecake
  • Fish, poultry, and meat products
  • Canned or cooked fruits and vegetables

New York is also the only state that allows home-made candy while forbidding chocolate or items dipped in chocolate.

When you see approved homemade foods like apple pies, jams, bread, and peanut brittle at your local farmer’s market, it’s tempting to support the people who make them. Many of us also love the taste difference between a homemade item and something that’s been mass-produced. But what happens when something we bought at a farmer’s market or food fair makes us sick?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food borne illnesses affect approximately 48 million people in the U.S. every year. This means that an estimated one in six people become seriously ill from something they ate. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop life-threatening complications.

Symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pain

Food poisoning cases that are especially serious can require hospitalization, followed by a long recovery period that can create financial difficulties. If you become seriously ill after eating an approved food item or even an illegally sold one, such as a meat pie or cheesecake, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the seller to recover compensation for lost income, medical costs, and other damages.

Compared to other injuries, food poisoning cases present practical difficulties. In many cases, you become ill days after eating contaminated food, making it a challenge to prove that you have food poisoning and not a case of the flu. It can also be difficult to identify exactly which food made you sick, and there may not be any of it left over to test for contamination.

If you purchase a homemade food item and become sick after consuming it, contact a New York personal injury attorney who can help you determine if enough evidence exists to identify the source of your illness. If there is sufficient cause to believe that the chocolate candy you bought at a roadside stand made you ill, your attorney will work with you to hold the seller responsible for your losses.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, then contact the law office of Jayson Lutzky, P.C. You may be entitled to large cash compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. Call 718-329-9500 or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com for more information.

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