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CDC: Each Year 1 in 6 Americans Get Sick From Eating Contaminated Food, Costing $15.5 Billion

Foodborne diseases are challenging for America’s employers — from rising healthcare costs associated with treating foodborne illnesses to lost worker productivity. Unsafe food that makes people sick has a ripple effect on businesses, communities and the U.S. economy. Annually, 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. Foodborne illness, estimated to cost more than $15.5 billion annually, is a common, costly health problem that can be reduced. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reducing foodborne infections by just 10 percent would keep 5 million Americans from getting sick each year.

Business Pulse: Food Safety, launched today by the CDC Foundation, focuses on how CDC fights foodborne diseases to protect American consumers and businesses from contaminated foods. This timely resource provides information and practical tools to help employers improve food safety in the workplace and make food safety a part of their company culture.

“For decades, CDC has rapidly detected, investigated, and stopped foodborne outbreaks,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “New technologies, such as whole genome sequencing, help us find and stop outbreaks even faster, saving lives and money. But much more needs to be done to reduce foodborne illness in America.”

Whole genome sequencing technology, which analyzes bacteria with a new DNA “fingerprinting” method, is helping CDC and state and local health departments detect and solve a greater number of Listeria outbreaks, including recent multistate outbreaks linked to ice cream and caramel apples. In the future, this technology may be used to help solve outbreaks from other types of germs commonly transmitted through food, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. CDC is dedicated to protecting America’s businesses, employees and their families by linking illness in people to specific foods and targeting information to guide food safety policies and practices to make food safe and save lives.

How does foodborne illness affect businesses and consumers?

  • According to CDC, 5 million people get sick from norovirus in food every year, making it the leading cause of disease outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States.
  • Each year Salmonella causes 1 million illnesses in the United States, with 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths.
  • Listeria is the third-leading cause of death from food poisoning, killing 1 out of 5 people it infects. Some 1,600 Americans get sick from Listeria germs every year.

This issue of Business Pulse highlights food safety challenges faced by all businesses, as well as a question and answer feature with food safety expert Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H., deputy director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. Business Pulse: Food Safety also features an interactive infographic that provides useful facts and links to online CDC tools, guidelines and resources.

Business Pulse: Food Safety is the eighth in a series of quarterly business features created by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization. Other Business Pulse topics to date include business continuity, safe healthcare, global health security, travelers’ health, flu prevention, healthy workforce and heart health.

About the CDC Foundation
Established by Congress, the CDC Foundation helps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do more, faster, by forging public-private partnerships to support CDC’s work 24/7 to save lives and protect people from health and safety threats. The CDC Foundation currently manages more than 250 CDC-led programs in the United States and in 73 countries around the world. Since 1995 the CDC Foundation has launched 760 programs and raised more than $450 million to advance the life-saving work of CDC. For more information, please visit www.cdcfoundation.org.

Marler Interview: Why Food Will Continue To Get Safer

From E. coli to salmonella, the headline-grabbing pathogens that can contaminate our food supply are meeting their match, thanks to an array of technology advancements that will impact both food producers and consumers, say food safety research and policy leaders.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to release its long-awaited research on the global burden of foodborne diseases in 2015, but ongoing data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) already paint a stark picture: One out of every 6 people in the United States suffers from a foodborne illness every year, and within that group 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. Reducing those numbers is the goal of an army of food safety researchers and thought leaders investigating everything from DNA “fingerprinting” techniques to packaging indicators that tell consumers whether the product inside is safe to consume, according to the latest series of interviews from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 publishing initiative. FutureFood 2050 explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help feed the world’s projected 9 billion-plus people in 2050.

“Regulatory agencies and food companies have much better resolution and ability today to track specific strains of organisms than they did a decade ago,” says Robert Brackett, director of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health. “Whole-genome sequencing [for example] is helping regulatory agencies identify discrete problems much more precisely. Beyond simply showing that there’s salmonella in a food sample, we can show that it came from a certain factory in a specific place,” he adds.

Food safety experts on the front lines talked to FutureFood 2050 this month about the most promising weapons in the fight to make our food supply safer, including:

  • Robert Brackett: Director of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health, who predicts that new gene-based tools will help pinpoint foodborne illness outbreaks in record time
  • Will Daniels: Fresh produce safety expert who says a variety of technology advancements are cleaning up contamination risks from farm to table
  • Chris Elliott: UK food fraud researcher who’s waging a war against criminal threats to the global food supply
  • Liu Xiumei: Pioneering food safety expert in China, who sees pollution issues as the country’s biggest challenge in improving food safety
  • William Marler: Veteran food safety attorney who believes consolidating regulatory agencies is essential for better oversight
  • Steve Taylor: Biochemist who co-founded the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program to support cutting-edge research on food allergies

FutureFood 2050 is a multi-year program highlighting the people and stories leading the efforts in finding solutions to a healthier, safer and better nourished planet to feed 9 billion-plus people by 2050. Through 2015, the program will release 75 interviews with the world’s most impactful leaders in food and science. The interviews with food safety leaders are the 12th installment of FutureFood’s interview series, following sustainability, women in food science, food waste, food security and nutrition in Africa, aquaculture, futurists on food, innovative agriculture Parts 1 and 2, kitchens of the future, obesity, and alternative proteins.

Early next year, FutureFood 2050 will also debut a documentary film exploring how the science of food will contribute solutions to feeding the world. Here’s a behind-the-scenes interview with the film’s director.

For more information, please visit FutureFood2050.com to subscribe to monthly updates, learn more about the project and read the latest news on food science.

About IFT

Founded in 1939, the Institute of Food Technologists is committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society–more than 17,000 members from more than 95 countries–brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

Marler Clark Attorneys, Bill Marler and Denis Stearns to Teach Law Class in Arkansas

Reception in their honor Monday February 23

Join us Monday, February 23 for a reception in honor of our guest and visiting professor, Bill Marler and his law partner Denis Stearns.  Bill and Denis will be here teaching a condensed course for us,  Food Safety Litigation, Monday and Tuesday.

The reception will be Monday evening from 5:00-7:00 with a presentation by Bill at 5:30.


CDC: New Study Shows Increase in Raw Milk-Associated Outbreaks

What: A study published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal shows that the average annual number of outbreaks due to drinking raw (unpasteurized) milk more than quadrupled since the last similar study – from an average of three outbreaks per year during 1993-2006 to 13 per year during 2007-2012. Overall, there were 81 outbreaks in 26 states from 2007 to 2012. The outbreaks, which accounted for about 5 percent of all foodborne outbreaks with a known food source, sickened nearly 1,000 people and sent 73 to the hospital. More than 80 percent of the outbreaks occurred in states where selling raw milk was legal.

Where: The study was published today on the EID journal website.

Why: As more states have allowed the legal sale of raw milk, there has been a rapid increase in the number of raw milk-associated outbreaks. Since 2004, eight additional states have begun allowing the sale of raw milk, bringing the number of states where raw milk sales are legal to 30. At least five additional states allow cow shares – a practice where people can pay a fee for a cow’s care in return for some of the cow’s raw milk – for a total of 10 states as of the most recent survey. If more states begin allowing sales of raw milk, the number of outbreaks and illnesses will continue to rise. CDC recommends against consuming raw milk, especially for people who may be more likely to suffer severe illness (children, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems).

CDC scientists are available to discuss the latest data and implications for the public’s health by contacting the CDC press office.  Contact: CDC Media Relations 404-639-3286

More information about health risks associated with raw milk is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/rawmilk/raw-milk-index.html.

Hepatitis A Vaccination Clinic Information for Hamilton New Jersey Residents

Mayor Kelly A. Yaede announces a Hepatitis A vaccination clinic due to the recent Hepatitis A public health issue involving Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering, located on South Broad Street in Hamilton. Persons who ate food at or from Rosa’s between November 10, 2014, through December 1, 2014, who have not been previously vaccinated for Hepatitis A, are urged to attend.

Hepatitis A Vaccination Clinic

Location: Colonial Volunteer Fire Company, 801 Kuser Road, Hamilton NJ

Date : Thursday , December 4, 2014

Time: 2 pm to 8 pm

· Clinic is open to Hamilton Residents only

· ID is required

· Ages 12 months and up

· Ages 18 yrs and below must be accompanied by an adult

· The cost of each vaccination will be $35

Residents can also contact the Hamilton Township Division of Health at 609-890-3884 for questions or additional information.

WA Custom Slaughterhouse Fined $6,000 and Shut

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the license of the custom slaughter establishment of Rickson Vilog (also known as Vilog LLC) after inspections found on-going sanitation problems at the Auburn business. In addition to revoking the company’s license, WSDA also assessed a civil penalty of $6,000.

As a result of WSDA’s action, the company cannot slaughter and process animals, including those purchased live on-site. Goats, sheep, swine and cattle are among the livestock slaughtered at the business.

Custom slaughter establishments are typically used by farmers, livestock owners, and practitioners of some religions to have their meat animals processed for personal consumption.

This week’s enforcement action follows several inspections of Rickson Vilog in which WSDA food safety inspectors found problems with unsanitary conditions, poor employee sanitation practices, and a general failure to protect food products from contamination. During the most recent inspection in October, inspectors noted ongoing failures to meet sanitary meat processing conditions, including lack of refrigeration and improper carcass handling. The firm failed to perform required compliance actions.

FDA: Want to Make Some Money off Salmonella?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for potential breakthrough ideas on how to find disease-causing organisms in food – especially Salmonella in fresh produce.
The 2014 FDA Food Safety Challenge was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, which grants all federal agencies broad authority to conduct prize competitions to spur innovation, solve tough problems, and advance their core missions. This challenge offers a total prize pool of $500,000.

Concepts must be able specifically to address the detection of Salmonella in minimally processed fresh produce, but the ability of a solution to address testing for other microbial pathogens and in other foods is encouraged.

Food safety experts such as scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, and innovators, as well as those new to the field, are encouraged to participate in the challenge, which launches September 23. A panel of food safety and pathogen detection experts from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will judge the submissions, determine finalists, and select a winner or winners.

“We are thrilled to announce the FDA’s first incentive prize competition under the America COMPETES Act,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “This is an exciting opportunity for the federal government to collaborate with outside experts to bring forth breakthrough ideas and technologies that can help ensure quicker detection of problems in our food supply and help prevent foodborne illnesses.”

While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans is sickened by foodborne illness annually, resulting in about 3,000 deaths, according to the CDC.  Salmonella is the leading cause of deaths and of hospitalizations related to foodborne illness, estimated to cause 380 deaths and 19,000 hospitalizations in the United States each year.

Those interested in participating should submit concepts to the FDA by Nov. 9, 2014. Up to five submitters will be selected to advance as finalists. Finalists will be awarded $20,000 and will have the opportunity to be coached by FDA subject matter experts who will help them mature their ideas before they present their refined concepts to the judges.

For a complete list of challenge rules and to submit a concept, visit http://www.foodsafetychallenge.com.

Bill Marler – E. coli Attorney and Lawyer

An accomplished attorney and national expert in food safety, William (Bill) Marler has become the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world .  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life altering injury and even death.

He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the company.  The 2011 book, Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat, by best-selling author Jeff Benedict, chronicles the Jack in the Box outbreak and the rise of Bill Marler as a food safety attorney.

For the last 20 years, he has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States.  He has filed lawsuits against such companies as Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Cargill, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, securing over $600,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, and other foodborne illnesses.

Among the most notable cases he has litigated, Bill counts those of nineteen-year-old dancer Stephanie Smith, who was sickened by an E. coli-contaminated hamburger that left her brain damaged and paralyzed, and Linda Rivera, a fifty-seven-year-old mother of six from Nevada, who was hospitalized for over 2 years after she was stricken with what her doctor described as “the most severe multi-organ [bowel, kidney, brain, lung, gall bladder, and pancreas] case of E. coli mediated HUS I have seen in my extensive experience.”

New York Times reporter Michael Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Smith’s case, which was settled by Cargill in 2010 for an amount “to care for her throughout her life.” Linda’s story hit the front page of the Washington Post and became Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s touchstone for successfully moving forward the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010.

Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the United States Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the 2010-2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

At little or no cost to event organizers, Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it.  He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety, and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.

He is a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness.  Bill’s articles include “Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim”, “Food Claims and Litigation”, “How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety”, and “How to Document a Food Poisoning Case” (co-authored with David Babcock.)  He is the publisher of the online news site, Food Safety News and his award winning blog, www.marlerblog.com is avidly read by the food safety and legal communities. He is frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications.

In 2010 Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education and in 2008 earned the Outstanding Lawyer Award by the King County Bar Association.  He has also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.

All about Clostridium Botulinum ( Botulism )


Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium Botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.

Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below for symptoms specific to infant botulism.

Most of the botulism cases reported each year come from foods that are not canned properly at home. Botulism from commercially canned food is rare, but commercial canned chili products were identified as the source of a botulism outbreak in 2007.


Botulism neurotoxins prevent neurotransmitters from functioning properly. This means that they inhibit motor control. As botulism progresses, the patient experiences paralysis from top to bottom, starting with the eyes and face and moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When paralysis reaches the chest, death from inability to breathe results unless the patient is ventilated. Symptoms of botulism generally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.  With treatment, illness lasts from 1 to 10 days.  Full recovery from botulism poisoning can take weeks to months.  Some people never fully recover.

In general, symptoms of botulism poisoning include the following:

Double vision
Dry skin, mouth and throat
Drooping eyelids
Difficulty swallowing
Slurred speech
Muscle Weakness
Body Aches
Lack of fever

Infant botulism takes on a different form. Symptoms in an infant include lethargy, poor appetite, constipation, drooling, drooping eyelids, a weak cry, and paralysis.


The majority of botulism patients never fully recover their pre-illness health. After three months to a year of recovery, persisting side-effects are most likely permanent. These long-term effects most often include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty performing strenuous tasks. Patients also report a generally less happy and peaceful psychological state than before their illness.


If a patient displays symptoms of botulism, a doctor will most likely take a blood, stool, or gastric secretion sample. The most common test for botulism is injecting the patient’s blood into a mouse to see whether the mouse displays signs of botulism, since other testing methods take up to a week.

Sometimes botulism can be difficult to diagnose, since symptoms can be mild, or confused with those of Guillan-Barre Syndrome.


If found early, botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This prevents the patient’s case from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks.


Since botulism poisoning most commonly comes from foods improperly canned at home, the most important step in preventing botulism is to follow proper canning procedure. Ohio State University’s Extension Service provides a useful guide to sanitary canning techniques.

Further botulism prevention techniques include:

Not eating canned food if the container is bulging or if it smells bad, although not all strains on Clostridium Botulinum smell
Storing garlic or herb-infused oil in the refrigerator
Not storing baked potatoes at room temperature
To prevent infant botulism, do not give even a small amount of honey to an infant, as honey is one source of infant botulism.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.