During the holidays many of us consume catered party food, or eat out in malls and restaurants more often than usual. Who should you call if the food makes you sick?

First, consider calling the Maryland Poison Center at (800) 222-1222. The MPC provides poison treatment and prevention services to all Marylanders. It’s staffed round the clock by pharmacists and nurses with specialized training in toxicology, a specialty that includes food-borne illnesses.


In addition, in Baltimore City, dial 311, and report the occurrence to the Bureau of Food Control. This agency, run by the Baltimore Health Department, oversees more than 5,000 food facilities to ensure compliance with state and local food safety regulations. They inspect City restaurants, markets, bakeries, mobile food preparation vehicles, and caterers. Ask for a copy of your case report, and make note of the date, time, and substance of your initial phone call. You can even file a report online, using the Baltimore CitiTrack Service Request System. Make a printout of your report. Follow up with the Health Department to see what happens to your complaint. Most importantly, call to report your illness as soon as possible.

Lists of food establishments recently closed by the Baltimore City Health Department are available online, but unfortunately, these reports are several months out of date. Nevertheless, you can check through these postings to see whether your illness came from eating food sold to you by a previous “food safety offender.”

In addition, you can click here for a map of facilities closed for food safety or other reasons by the Baltimore City Health Department.

A Google map connecting you to the full text of inspections conducted by the Howard County Health Department  is also available. Other counties have similar reporting services.

An overview of food poisoning, including the various types, their causes, symptoms and much more, is available in this University of Maryland article. Yes, these are the same folks who run the Maryland Poison Control Center, and they’ve also posted someseasonal poison prevention advice.

Finally, if your illness is severe enough to require medical intervention, consider legal representation. In general, a food poisoning case requires evidence of three things:


(1) The vendor failed to exercise due care with respect to the preparation or handling of the food item;
(2) This lack of due care caused the specific harm you suffered; and
(3) Real injuries resulted from eating the contaminated food.


In other words, if negligent food handling led you to eat contaminated food that made you physically ill from the specific contaminant that was present in this food, you probably have a case.


If you have suffered injuries as a result of eating contaminated food, the personal injury attorneys at Ingerman & Horwitz will evaluate your claim without cost to you. Just contact us.