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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

What six things a Food Safety Lawyer does not eat

Bill-Marler-B-W-headshot-640x441Unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and packaged juices. Unpasteurized milk, sometimes called “raw” milk, can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites. Between 1998 and 2011, there were 148 food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk and raw milk products in the US—and keep in mind that comparatively few people in the country ever consume these products, so 148 outbreaks is nothing to ignore. As for unpasteurized packaged juices, one of Marler’s earliest cases was the 1996 E. coli outbreak from unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice. As a result, he won’t go near raw milk or juice. There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” he says.

Raw sprouts. Uncooked and lightly cooked sprouts have been linked to more than 30 bacterial outbreaks (mostly of Salmonella and E. coli) in the US since mid-1990s. As recently as 2014, salmonella from bean sprouts sent 19 people to the hospital. All types of sprouts—including alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish sprouts—can spread infection, which is caused by bacterial contamination of their seeds. “There have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination,” Marler says. “Those are products that I just don’t eat at all.” He did add that he does eat them if they’re cooked.

Meat that isn’t well-done. Marler orders his burgers well-done. “The reason ground products are more problematic and need to be cooked more thoroughly is that any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it,” Marler says. “If it’s not cooked thoroughly to 160°F throughout, it can cause poisoning by E. coli and Salmonella and other bacterial illnesses.” As for steaks, needle tenderizing—a common restaurant practice in which the steak is pierced with needles or sliced with knives to break down the muscle fibers and make it more tender—can also transfer bugs from the surface to the interior of the meat. If a restaurant does this (Marler asks), he orders his steak well-done. If the restaurant doesn’t, he’ll opt for medium-well.

Prewashed or precut fruits and vegetables. “I avoid these like the plague,” Marler says. Why? The more a food is handled and processed, the more likely it is to become tainted. “We’ve gotten so used to the convenience of mass-produced food—bagged salad and boxed salads and precut this and precut that,” Marler says. “Convenience is great but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk.” He buys unwashed, uncut produce in small amounts and eats it within three to four days to reduce the risk for Listeria, a deadly bug that grows at refrigerator temps.

Raw or undercooked eggs. You may remember the Salmonella epidemic of the 1980s and early ’90s that was linked mainly to eggs. If you swore off raw eggs back then, you might as well stick with it. The most recent salmonella outbreak from eggs, in 2010, caused roughly 2,000 reported cases of illness. “I think the risk of egg contamination is much lower today than it was 20 years ago for salmonella, but I still eat my eggs well-cooked,” Marler says.

Raw oysters and other raw shellfish. Marler says that raw shellfish—especially oysters—have been causing more foodborne illness lately. He links this to warming waters, which produce more microbial growth. “Oysters are filter feeders, so they pick up everything that’s in the water,” he explains. “If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble. I’ve seen a lot more of that over the last five years than I saw in the last 20 years. It’s simply not worth the risk.”

William “Bill” Marler is a nationally recognized American personal injury lawyer and food safety advocate. He is the managing partner of Marler Clark, a Seattle, Washington, based law firm that specializes in foodborne illness cases.

First published at http://bottomlinehealth.com/health-insider/6-things-this-food-safety-expert-wont-eatand-one-surprising-food-he-will/ Copyright © 2016 by Boardroom Inc., 281 Tresser Blvd., Stamford, Connecticut 06901-3229. www.BottomLineHealth.com

2015 – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, By Naomi Tomky March 24, 2015

2015 – The New Yorker – A Bug in the System
The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton, February 2, 2015.

2014 – Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat
The National Law Journal, Interview with Jenna Greene, November 3, 2014.

2012 – Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather)
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 2.

2012 – Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress
Miami New Times, Interview with Ily Goyanes, November 14.

2012 – Profiles in Public Health Law: Interview with William “Bill” Marler CDC Public Health Law News, July.

2012 – Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler On Sprouts, Raw Milk, and Why “Local” Isn’t Always Safer Blisstree.com, Hanna Brooks Olsen, March 5.

2011 – Listeria outbreak draws Seattle lawyer to battle
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2011 – Food-Borne Illness Attorney: Top Foods to Avoid
ABC News, Neal Karlinsky, September 29.

2011 – How to Keep Food Free of Salmonella: Lawsuits
The Atlantic, Barry Estabrook, August 31.

2011 – More Stomach-Churning Facts about the E. Coli Outbreak
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2011 – Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More
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2011 – Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney
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2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat.
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2011 – New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work.
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2010 – Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is
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2009 – Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business
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2009 – WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer
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2009 – When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse
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2009 –  Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator
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2009 – Food Fight:Bill Marler’s Beef (PDF)
Washington Law & Politics, David Volk, May

2009 – Candidate for Top FSIS Job talks E. coli Testing, Irradiation, Education
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2009 – Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist
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2009 – Heath Surveillance the Key to Fresh Produce
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2008 – Seattle Food Contamination Expert in China as Tainted Milk Sickens Thousands of Kids
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2008 –  E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever
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2007 –  Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer
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2007 –  The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All
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2007 –  Back to Court: Burst of E. coli Cases Returns Jack in the Box Litigator to the Scene
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2007 – Food Fight
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2007 –  Mr. Food Illness Esquire
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2006 –  Seattle Attorney Dominates Food-Borne Illness Litigation
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2006 –  How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach
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2005 – Bill Marler – Education Holds Key in Tainted Food Fight
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2001 –  THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 Schoolkids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit
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2001 –  Hammer Time: Preparation Pays When Disputes Escalate to Lawsuits
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Asian Microgreens Recalled over Salmonella

ChloroFields of Lawrence, KS is recalling 20 cases of Asian Microgreens, because they have potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, anorganism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

The products were distributed throughout Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, and were made available through retail grocery stores.

The product comes in a 1.5 oz clamshell, and is identified as Asian Mix Microgreens with a sell by date of 3/26/2017. The sell by date is located on a white sticker on the bottom of the container. The UPC number of the product is 853763007096.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was a result of routine examinations conducted by the FDA that revealed finished product that contained the bacteria. Chlorofields along with the FDA is continuing investigation as to what caused the problem, and has ceased distributing the product.

Consumers are urged not to consume the product.

Robin Hood Flour Recalled after 25 with E. coli O121

20170328_1490718730482_engThe Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli, called E. coli O121 that has now been linked to Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a food recall warning advising Canadians of the recalled product that has been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products linked to the outbreak investigation may be identified.

Canadians are advised not to use or eat any Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original sold in 10 kilogram bags with a code containing BB/MA 2018 AL 17 and 6 291 548 as these products may be contaminated with E. coli. For additional recall details, please consult CFIA’s recall notice. Restaurants and retailers are also advised not to sell or serve the recalled product, or any items that may have been prepared or produced using the recalled product.

This outbreak is a reminder that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter, regardless of the type of flour used as raw flour can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E. coli.

There have been 25 cases of E. coli O121 with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in four provinces: British Columbia (12), Saskatchewan (4), Alberta (4) and Newfoundland and Labrador (5). The illness onset dates range from November 2016 to late February 2017. Six individuals have been hospitalized. These individuals have recovered or are recovering. No deaths have been reported. The majority (54%) of the individuals who became ill are male with an average age of 24 years.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a food recall warning for Robin Hood All Purpose Flour, Original linked to this outbreak. During the food safety investigation, samples of Robin Hood flour were collected and did test positive for E. coli O121. Several individuals who became ill reported having contact with Robin Hood flour. The investigation is ongoing and it is possible that additional products linked to the outbreak investigation may be identified.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Video: Vulto Creamery Listeria Outbreak Update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local officials, has identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery of Walton, New York, as the likely source of an outbreak of listeriosis in six people from four states. Two of the six people have died.

The agencies have been investigating this outbreak since January 31, 2017. After gathering evidence about various cheeses eaten by the people who became ill, CDC identified Ouleout cheese from Vulto Creamery as the likely cause of the outbreak.

After being informed of a positive test conducted on a retail sample of Ouleout cheese by the FDA, Vulto Creamery began contacting its customers to return Ouleout cheese on March 3, 2017, and on March 7 announced a recall of its Ouleout cheese along with its Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc cheeses.

On March 8, 2017, FDA received positive test results from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirming samples of Ouleout cheese that matched the genetic fingerprint of Listeria monocytogenes in the outbreak.

The CDC reports that six people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from Connecticut, Florida, New York and Vermont. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 1, 2016, to January 22, 2017. All six people were hospitalized and two people died. Ill people ranged in age from less than one year to 89, with a median age of 55.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.