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Charlotte North Carolina Hepatitis A Scare

The Mecklenburg County Health Department is encouraging patrons who visited a SouthPark restaurant between Feb. 4 and 10 to get vaccinated for hepatitis A.

An employee at Dogwood Southern Table & Bar, located in the Sharon Square development, was confirmed to have a case of the hepatitis A virus over the weekend.  That employee did not prepare food but was responsible for cleaning and polishing silverware and glassware and delivering food to tables. The employee stopped working at the restaurant on Feb. 10.

The restaurant is open for business and is not considered a public health threat, the health department says.  But patrons who ate at Dogwood between Feb. 4 and 10 are at risk for developing hepatitis A if they have not previously been vaccinated, the department says. Health department officials say the risk of a secondary infection is low.

Dogwood owner Jon Dressler says all restaurant employees have been vaccinated, and guests who visited the restaurant during those dates should have been contacted by the health department.

“I’m sorry for the guests, and we can just apologize for the inconvenience,” Dressler says.

Vaccinations for individuals who ate at the restaurant during dinner shift on Feb. 4 and Feb. 5 will be given until 5 p.m. today at the Mecklenburg County Health Department office at 249 Billingsley Road.  On Thursday and Friday, those who ate at the restaurant Feb. 7 through Feb. 10 can receive vaccinations.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.

Seattle Food Safety Litigator, William Marler, Named as One of The Daily Meal’s Top 50 Most Powerful People in Food

Popular online food site The Daily Meal has announced their fifth annual list of the Top 50 Most Powerful People in Food, which includes William Marler of Seattle-based Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm. Marler was ranked #43, up from last year’s #47. In 2013, he was ranked #48 and in 2012 he was ranked #46.

The Daily Meal editors rank the Top 50 Most Powerful People in Food List after extensive research, including reading news stories, annual statements, and editorial analyses. They also consult with experts in various food-related fields and debate the picks  in sometimes-contentious editorial discussion.

“This year, we attempted to bring more order to the process,” wrote Colman Andrews, editor of The Daily Meal, in the introduction of the list. “Once we came up with a long initial roster, we graded each nominee on five criteria: the number of people the candidate reaches, the number of venues through which the candidate can reach people, past accomplishments, potential for future accomplishments, and proven ability to reach and influence people through their actions.”

The list represents an interesting mix of chefs, restaurateurs, legislators, culinary activists and foodies. In addition to Marler, other notable honorees include Ingrid Newkirk (President and Co-Founder of PETA, #49), Jimmy Fallon (Host of The Tonight Show, #41),  Ben Silbermann (Founder and CEO of Pinterest, #29), Barack and Michelle Obama (President and First Lady, #13), Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks, #6), and Thomas Vilsack (USDA Secretary, #1).

“Certainly, over the years, some people have had mixed feelings about my involvement in the food industry, but I’m glad that my work has been able to have a positive influence, helping as many victims as I have, and pushing the industry to recognize the steps that need to be taken to keep people safe,” said Marler.

Marler’s food safety career began back in 1994, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured victim in the industry-changing Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. After a lot of hard work, as well as representing 100 other victims in the case, Marler negotiated a settlement of $15.6 million for Brianne Kiner. This was the largest settlement in the case, which totaled more than $50 million in individual and class action settlements– the largest payments ever involving food-borne illness.

In 1998, Marler founded his own firm, Marler Clark, focused solely on food safety advocacy and litigation. Marler and the firm’s other attorneys have handled cases involving every major foodborne illness and outbreak in the last 20 years.

When not litigating, Marler spends much of his time traveling to address food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about foodborne illness, related litigation, and surrounding issues. He has testified before Congress as well as State Legislatures. He is a frequent author of articles related to foodborne illness in food safety journals and magazines as well as on his personal blog, www.marlerblog.com. Bill is also the founder and publisher of Food Safety News (www.foodsafetynews.com), a one-stop resource for global food safety news and information.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne outbreaks such as E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Listeria. The lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of 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. The law firm has brought lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, Taco Bell, Peanut Corporation of America, ConAgra, Subway, Wal-Mart, and Jimmy John’s.

Marler Opinion: From apple juice to caramel apples – a 20-year journey to the same place

Published today in Fresh Fruit Portal:

Nearly 20 years ago, a growing, all organic, all raw juice company saw its sales and profits ever rising. Looking for new markets to sell its “Superfood,” it reached out to the U.S. Army to sell the juice to healthy young men and women. The Army sent a food safety group to visit the plant. In a letter to Odwalla after the plant inspection and product-testing, the Army stated that it had determined that “your plant sanitation program does not adequately assure product wholesomeness for military consumers. This lack of assurance prevents approval of your establishment as a source of supply for the Armed Forces at this time.” Hmm, if you cannot sell your juice to the Army, why would you continue to sell it to the general public, including pregnant women and children?

Just a few months after receiving the above notice from the Army, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to the company’s organic, raw apple juice sickened dozens. The outbreak caused several people to have acute kidney failure, and killed one child. The company pleaded ignorance that its product could be the cause. Eventually, the company paid out US$15,000,000 to my clients in settlements and was fined by the FDA for US$1,400,000. A tough lesson for the company on the realities of bacteriology and pasteurization; however, a deadly lesson for at least one young customer.

In early December 2014 came the announcement of a Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples that had sickened over two dozen, sending all to the hospital. Eventually the number of outbreak victims would rise to at least thirty-two in ten states, with several dead. Given the long incubation period (up to 70 days), the illness and death toll will surely rise.

After an extensive traceback and traceforward, the grower and processor of two types of apples were implicated, which prompted an apple recall. A strain of Listeria matching that which had sickened and killed so many was found in the plant. Moreover, the recall that had initially been limited to the U.S. now spans the globe. Warnings have been issued from Malaysia and Vietnam to refrain from eating U.S. apples. There is no lack of irony in this warning, given that over the years I have watched U.S. food producers attempt to scare domestic consumers away from “foreign grown food.” The eventual cost of the worldwide recall and the consumer litigation from the apple outbreak will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Of course the inevitable refrain has arisen, “how could we have known, this is the first Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples. It has never happened before.” We heard the same whine following the Listeria outbreak that left 147 sick with 33 dead in 2011 linked to cantaloupe grown in Eastern Colorado. That outbreak was not only one of the deadliest in U.S. history, but I am making sure that it will also be one of the most expensive.

When I am not suing companies for poisoning and killing their customers, I am telling them a few simple concepts gleaned from the tatters of companies that cannot seem to learn from the past or pay attention to warning signs from the future. They are three simple ideas:

1. Arm yourself with good, current information – including paying attention to the past.
2. Since you have a choice between doing nothing and being proactive, be proactive.
3. Make food safety a part of everything you do.

Chances are good that if you follow the above simple principles, reading this editorial will be the very last you hear of me.

Texas Investigates Panhandle Salmonella Cases

Texas State health officials are investigating about a dozen cases of salmonella over the past several weeks in Dallam and Hartley counties in the northwest corner of the Texas Panhandle.

The director of the infection prevention program at Dalhart’s Coon Memorial Hospital says the number of cases prompted the alert to state authorities. They’re contacting people who have or have had the illness to try to find a common thread.

Salmonella illness is spread by eating contaminated foods, drinking contaminated water or having hand-to-mouth contact with an infected person or animal. It usually develops 12 to 72 hours after infection and can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The illness lasts around four to seven days.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

Marler – 43rd on List of America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2015

I made the Daily Meal’s: America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food for 2015. Honestly, having a lawyer as part of this list may not be a good thing.

#43 Bill Marler, Foodborne Illness Lawyer and Attorney

An accomplished personal injury and products liability attorney, Marler has been litigating foodborne illness cases since 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously sickened survivor of the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, creating a Washington State record for an individual personal injury action ($15.6 million). More than a lawyer, Marler has become an advocate for a safer food supply, petitioning the USDA 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. He also helps keep us in the loop with his blog, which he updates on a near-daily basis.

I’m up from 47th in 2014, And, wedged between some interesting people this year:

#50 Adam Rapoport, Editor in Chief, Bon Appétit

#49 Ingrid Newkirk, President and Co-Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

#48 José Andrés, Chef-Restaurateur

#47 Julie Packard, Executive Director and Vice-Chairman, Monterey Bay Aquarium

#46 Steve Spinner, CEO, President, and Director, United Natural Foods, Inc.

#45 Alice Waters, Chef-Restaurateur and Founder and Director, The Edible Schoolyard Project

#44 David Murdock, CEO, Dole Food Company

#43 Bill Marler, Foodborne Illness Lawyer and Attorney

#42 Bill Shore, Founder and CEO, Share Our Strength#41 Jimmy Fallon, Host, The Tonight Show

#40 Paul Grimwood, CEO and Chairman, Nestlé USA

#39 Pete Wells, Restaurant Critic, The New York Times

#38 Michel Landel, CEO, Sodexo

#37 Craig Jelinek, CEO, Costco

#36 Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, Chef/Restaurateurs

#35 Dan Bane, Chairman and CEO, Trader Joe’s

#34 Danny Meyer, Restaurateur

#33 Steve Ells, Founder/ Co-CEO, Chairman, Chipotle Mexican Grill

#32 Mehmet Oz, Doctor, Author, and TV Host

#31 Eric J. Foss, CEO, Aramark

#30 Fred DeLuca, Co-Founder and President, Subway

#29 Ben Silbermann, Founder and CEO, Pinterest

#28 Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association

#27 Jim McGovern, Co-Chair, House Hunger Caucus

#26 David C. Novak, Executive Chairman, Yum! Brands

#25 Yancey Strickler, Founder & CEO, Kickstarter

#24 Paul Polman, CEO, Univeler

#23 Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Food Network

#22 Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO, The Kroger Co.

#21 Irene Rosenfeld, CEO, Mondelez International

#20 Patricia Woertz, Chairman, President, and CEO, Archer Daniels Midland

#19 Donnie Smith, President and CEO, Tyson Foods

#18 Steve Easterbrook, CEO, McDonalds

#17 Pamela Bailey, President and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Association

#16 John T. Cahill, CEO, Kraft Foods

#15 David MacLennan, President and CEO, Cargill

#14 John Mackey, Founder and Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market

#13 Barack and Michelle Obama, President and First Lady

#12 Rachael Ray, Television personality

#11 William J. Delaney III, CEO, Sysco

#10 Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-Founder and CEO, Yelp

#9 Jack Menzel and Dan Entin, Google

#8 James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

#7 Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

#6 Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks

#5 Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Food, Federal Drug Administration

#4 Susan Neely, President & CEO, American Beverage Association

#3 Hugh Grant, Chairman, President, and CEO, The Monsanto Company

#2 Jack Sinclair, Executive Vice President, Grocery Division, Walmart

#1 Thomas Vilsack, Secretary, USDA

National Law Journal Honors William Marler as Litigation Trailblazer and Pioneer

Welcome to the premier issue of Litigation Trailblazers & Pioneers, a special supplement developed by the business arm of The National Law Journal. In the pages that follow, you’ll read 50 profiles of people who have helped make a difference in the fight for justice. While those recognized come at the litigation process from different angles, a common thread ties them together: each has shown a deep passion and perseverance in pursuit of their mission, having achieved remarkable successes along the way.

Historically, an improving economy has a slowing effect on litigation. Today, activity continues to climb despite the markets’ flirtation with record highs. From the Affordable Healthcare Act to a stricter regulatory environment, big data and privacy concerns to IP battles and product liability suits, among other contributors, the courts are busier than ever. All our honorees have a major stake in the ground and they are advocating strongly for their causes.

As with all Trailblazers & Pioneers supplements, the list is never complete. Our goal is to spotlight those making a big difference and the search never ends. If you have someone you feel should make our next list, please reach out and let us know. We hope you enjoy this special section and look forward to hearing from you with your nominations for next year’s list!

See all honorees.

Salmonella and E. coli Found at Los Angeles and Seattle Farmer’s Markets

Researchers in Chapman University’s Food Science Program and their collaborators at University of Washington have just published a study on the presence of Salmonella and E. coli on certain herbs sold at farmers’ markets. The study focused on farmers’ markets in Los Angeles and Orange counties in California, as well as in the Seattle, Washington, area. Specifically tested were samples of the herbs cilantro, basil and parsley. Of the 133 samples tested from 13 farmers’ markets, 24.1 percent tested positive for E. coli and one sample tested positive for Salmonella.

“While farmers’ markets can become certified to ensure that each farmer is actually growing the commodities being sold, food safety is not addressed as part of the certification process,” said Rosalee Hellberg, Ph.D., and co-author on the study. “Certain herbs such as parsley, basil and cilantro have been implicated in many food outbreaks over the past two decades so our study focused specifically on the safety and quality of these three herbs.”

Rosalee Head Shot

Hellberg and her research team visited 49 different vendors at 13 farmers’ markets in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in California, and in the greater Seattle area collecting 133 samples of the three herbs between the period of July and October 2013. Each sample was equivalent to one pound and was tested that same day for both Salmonella and E. coli using methods from the United States Food and Drug Administration Bacteriological Analytical Manual.

A total of 16 samples had average E. coli counts considered to be unsatisfactory according to guidelines established by the Public Health Laboratory Service. When tested for Salmonella, 15 samples had suspicious growth but only one tested positive—a parsley sample from a Los Angeles County farmers’ market.

Orange County farmers’ markets had the highest percentage of samples with E. coli growth followed by farmers’ markets in the greater Seattle area and Los Angeles County.

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever around 12 to 72 hours after consumption that can last four to seven days. Symptoms for pathogenic forms of E. coli include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that often becomes bloody, and vomiting.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service, farmers’ markets have been increasing since 2009 near urban areas, particularly along the East and West Coasts. In August 2013, there were more than 8,000 farmers’ markets listed in the USDA’s National Farmers’ Market directory.

The study was published in the ­­Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Rosa’s Restaurant Link in Hepatitis A Warning

Late Monday the Hamilton Township Department of Health was informed by the state Department of Health of a confirmed case of Hepatitis A involving a food worker employed at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering located at 3442 South Broad St, Hamilton Township.

In a press release health officials warned that people who ate at this restaurant or catered from this restaurant from Nov. 10 through Dec. 1 may be at risk for developing Hepatitis A if they have not been previously vaccinated with the Hepatitis A vaccine.

Unvaccinated individuals who ate there should receive an injection of immune globulin or Hepatitis A vaccine if their exposure occurred from Nov. 10 through Dec. 1, according to the health department. These individuals should contact their primary care providers or if uninsured their local health department to receive the immunization. Both immune globulin and Hepatitis A vaccine can prevent infection with the hepatitis A virus if given within 14 days of exposure.

Uninsured Hamilton residents should call the Hamilton Health Department — located at 2100 Greenwood Ave., Hamilton — at (609) 890-3884 for an appointment.

The health department explained that the early signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A appear two to six weeks after exposure and commonly include the following:

Mild fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tiredness, pain in the upper right side of the abdomen under the rib cage, dark urine and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)

The disease varies in severity, with mild cases lasting two weeks or less and more severe cases lasting four to six weeks or longer, according to the health department. Some individuals, especially children, may not develop jaundice and may have an illness so mild that it can go unnoticed. However, even persons with mild symptoms can be highly infectious. Persons with symptoms suggestive of Hepatitis A should consult a physician even if symptoms are mild.

Persons who ate at Rosa’s Restaurant and Catering from Nov. 10 to Dec. 1 are urged to be particularly thorough with hand washing after toileting and prior to food preparation to avoid any potential for further spread of disease. They should not prepare or handle food for anyone outside of their immediate family, the health department said.

At all times, hand washing should include vigorous washing of hands with soap and running warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds. All surfaces should be washed down including the back of the hands, wrists, between fingers and under the fingernails

Additional information regarding Hepatitis A can be viewed at the following website: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/ChooseA.htm.

Residents can also contact the Hamilton Township Division of Health at (609) 890-3884. 

If you ate at an unnamed Maine Restaurant you may be at risk for Hepatitis A

Mike Reagan of WMTW reports that the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a health alert about hepatitis A.  However, the Maine CDC will not say what restaurant it is.

The center said that a food service worker at a Cumberland County restaurant tested positive for the virus. Maine CDC did not identify the location but said the person was working with food between Sept. 29 and Oct. 11.

Patrons at the unnamed restaurant may be at risk for infection.

Anyone experiencing fever, jaundice, nausea, clay-colored stool and dark urine are urged to get tested, Maine CDC said.

It is mainly contracted through the fecal-oral route by people who have not washed their hands well after going to the bathroom. Mills said people handling food can transmit the virus to other people, which is why regulations exist for food service workers.

Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the Maine CDC, refused to comment on Thursday.

Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.

5 State Salmonella Outbreak Over

A total of six persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup were reported from five states since January 1, 2014.

The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Connecticut (1), Iowa (1), New Mexico (1), Tennessee (1), and Texas (2).

One ill person was hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that almond and peanut butter manufactured by nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. was the likely source of this outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated the same strain of Salmonella Braenderup from environmental samples collected from an nSpired Natural Foods facility during routine inspections in February and July 2014.

Between July 15 and August 29, 2014, FDA conducted an inspection at nSpired Natural Foods. FDA issued a Form 483 Inspection Report documenting eight observations made during the inspection.

FDA’s investigation is ongoing. On August 19, 2014, nSpired Natural Foods, Inc. voluntarily recalled certain lots of almond and peanut butters because of potential contamination with Salmonella.

The recalled brands included Arrowhead Mills, MaraNatha, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Kroger.

A complete listing of all of the recalled products is available on the FDA website.

Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.