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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

A Point Well Taken

Once again, the Perishable Pundit has managed to give, and get, some excellent commentary on sprouts and other food safety issues.  I particularly enjoyed the statement by Devon Zagory, Ph.D, an industry leader in produce safety science, discussing the proper role of FDA regulations.  If I may be so bold, and speak for Dr. Zagory, I believe he would fully acknowledge the importance of FDA regs on any number of produce, medicinal, or other food products.  But he appears to also share the sentiment that FDA regs are a floor, not a ceiling.  He states, in reference to sprouts and his new job with Salad Cosmo:

"In the mean time we are already instituting a program that includes adherence to FDA test-and-hold procedures [step one] and goes well beyond FDA guidelines [step two] in terms of seed testing, water testing, environmental sampling, hazard analysis, development of detailed SOPs and validation of food safety programs and processes. Of course we are investigating seed sources to try to find seed produced following GAPs. It is a challenge that we relish. I don’t eat sprouts unless I know where and how they were produced. I eat sprouts from Salad Cosmo."

(emphasis and commentary supplied)

We see way too many companies in litigation trumpeting their adherence to FDA regs, or standards, and drawing the connection between that and proof of reasonable conduct.  The two are not equal.  There are hundreds, probably even thousands, of files in our file cabinets at Marler Clark containing the records of people injured in outbreaks where the manufacturer was "adhering to FDA standards."  Think about it.  Would you ever advise somebody–your children, co-workers, anybody–to "do the bare minimum and all will be well?"  Why should that defense work in front of a jury then?