Imagine you are at your favorite restaurant on a Saturday night. You have just waited 35 minutes to finally be seated. However, you’re not upset because you truly enjoy dining at this restaurant. As usual, you order the boneless grilled chicken with vegetables. As you sink your teeth into a piece of chicken, you hear an unusually loud CRUNCH. You immediately find yourself in excruciating pain. Unbeknownst to you, the boneless grilled chicken had a concealed bone inside. Congratulations, you just broke a tooth and will incurthousands of dollars in dental bills.
As you can imagine, this is quite common. In fact, many jurisdictions in the United States permit the injured patron to recover. However, before any recovery is permitted, a legal hurdle must be passed. Specifically, many jurisdictions will allow recovery if the harmful substance in the food is foreign to the food. This test is commonly known as the “foreign-natural” test. Under the “foreign-natural” test, if the substance is natural to the food recovery for injuries is not permitted.
In Florida, the “foreign-natural” test is not followed. Nevertheless, one may still recover for injuries caused by harmful substances in food as long as a different hurdle is passed. This hurdle is called the “reasonable expectation” test. In other words, was it reasonable to anticipate the item to be in the dish? According to a Florida court decision, the harmful substances found in a food “must be based on what the consumer might reasonably expect to find in the food as served.” Thus, this test differs from the “foreign-natural” test because while one may anticipate chicken bones in chicken, the expectation may be different when one orders a boneless grilled chicken dish. As such, one may recover for damages in Florida but be barred from recovery in other states.