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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler to Speak at International Association for Food Protection 2014 Meeting in Indianapolis

The Seattle food safety attorney will discuss the infamous Jack in the Box E. coli case and how it changed the way we look at food safety

WHO: Bill Marler of Marler Clark, LLP is an accomplished personal injury and products liability attorney. He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.

Marler settled Brianne’s case for $15.6 million, creating a Washington state record for an individual personal injury action. He settled several other Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak cases for more than $1.5 million each.

At IAFP 2014, Marler will walk through the history of the Jack in the Box outbreak and how this terrible tragedy led to necessary changes in food safety – from supply to preparation.

WHAT: Opening Session Lecture – 20 Years Later, Where Were We, Where are We and Where are We Going? at The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting, which in 2014 is in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indiana Convention Center.

WHEN: Sunday, April 3, 2014 from 6:00 PM

WHERE: 500 Ballroom (Indiana Convention Center)

The 1992–1993 Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was one of the biggest outbreaks in the beef and restaurant industry. The story of Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor, and how Bill Marler came to represent her is recounted in the nonfiction novel Poisoned by Jeff Benedict.

“It is a privilege to speak at the IAFP and be given a chance to honor those who were sickened and those who died in the outbreak,” said Marler. At the Opening Session Lecture, Marler will also recognize the major breakthroughs over the past 20 years that have occurred in academics, government, and industry, in trying to make our food supply safer.

For media wishing to speak with Bill Marler, please contact Ginger Vaughan (ginger@quinnbrein.com) or Sam Jones (sam@quinnbrein.com) or call 206-842-8922. Also contact us if you would like to attend the conference as Marler’s guest.

Nine Minnesota Applebee’s Linked to E. coli O111 Outbreak

Food product – likely salad ingredient – not yet identified.

The Minnesota Department of Health on Thursday released a list of nine Applebee’s locations linked to a recent outbreak of E. coli.

People infected with the bacteria have reported eating at Applebee’s restaurants in Bemidji, Blaine (two locations), Duluth, Roseville, Willmar, Woodbury, Monticello and New Hope, the Health Department says.

The outbreak caused by the O111 form of the bacteria was first reported July 14. Fifteen cases have been reported so far, with 12 infected people confirmed to have eaten at Applebee’s between June 23 and 29.

Investigators from Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture are working to identify a food item associated with the outbreak.

E. coli:  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.

84 Ill in 15 States and 4 Provinces and 2 Salmonella Chia Lawsuits

We have filed two suits – one on behalf of a Colorado resident and the other on behalf of two California residents.

As of July 14, 2014 the CDC reports, a total of 25 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (16 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 15 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (5), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3).  In the United States as a result of this investigation, several recalls of products containing organic sprouted chia powder and chia seeds have been issued.

The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to investigate similar cases of Salmonella infection in several Canadian provinces. In Canada, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 59 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (33) and Quebec (3). Nine cases have been hospitalized; seven cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of two cases has not been provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 43 of 51 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.  Several Canadian companies have recalled products containing sprouted chia powder or chia seeds.

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.

Sysco Fined $20M for Food Safety Violations

Vicky Nguyen of NBC San Francisco reports that Sysco Corporation, the world’s largest food distributor, has agreed to pay $19.4 million in penalties and restitution after an NBC Bay Area investigation uncovered the company’s secret food sheds regulators called illegal and unsafe.

Inspectors from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) launched their investigation into Sysco Corporation last July, after whistleblowers came forward to NBC Bay Area to expose the company’s longstanding practice of storing meat, produce, dairy, and other fresh food in dirty, unrefrigerated, outdoor storage units.  CDPH inspectors combed though company records from July 2009 to August 2013 and found:

  • 25 unregistered drop sites across Sysco’s 7 distribution centers spanning from – Sacramento to San Diego
  • 23,287 cumulative days food was illegally stored
  • 156,740 food items stored in drop sites without temperature controls
  • 405,859 food items stored in illegal drop sites

Last summer, NBC Bay Area witnessed this potentially hazardous process first hand, as the Investigative Unit’s surveillance cameras captured raw food being transported from Sysco’s Fremont distribution center to unrefrigerated storage lockers in Concord and San Jose where it was placed on the floor next to insects and rattraps. The food sat for hours in temperatures as high as 80 degrees before it was picked up by sales associates and delivered to restaurants and hotels.

In a written statement, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office wrote: “The July 2013 NBC report triggered a state-wide investigation by the California Department of Public Health and, ultimately, an enforcement proceeding brought by the California Food Drug and Medical Device Task.”

Following their investigation (pdf) Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties ultimately filed suit.

As part of the settlement, Sysco agreed to pay more than $4 million in restitution, including a $1 million food contribution to food banks throughout California and $3.3 million to fund a 5 year state-wide-program aimed at helping health inspectors enforce food transportation laws.