The Six things Bill Marler does not eat.
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.”
Unpasteurized (“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.
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
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. Over the last 30 years, 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.
Bill 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. The book is soon to be a Netflix series.
For the last 30 years, Bill has represented victims of every large foodborne illness outbreak in the United States and has consulted on cases in Europe, Asia and Africa. He has filed lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Chipotle, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. Through his work, he has secured over $850,000,000 for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Hepatitis 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.
More Than an Attorney
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 a frequent media guest on food safety issues and has been profiled in numerous publications, including the ABC News, New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.
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 also received the Public Justice Award from the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association in 2008.
Bill graduated from the Seattle University School of Law in 1987, and in 1998 was the Law School’s “Lawyer in Residence.” In 2011, he was given Seattle University’s Professional Achievement Award.
Bill is married to Julie Marler and has three daughters, Morgan, Olivia, and Sydney.
1987 – J.D. Seattle University School of Law
1982 – B.A.s Political Science, Economics, English, Washington State University
AWARDS AND DISTINCTIONS
2013 – Seattle University Distinguished Law Graduate Award
2011- Seattle University Professional Achievement Award
2011 to Present – ABA Journal “Blawg 100” Best Legal Blogs
2010 – NSF Food Safety Leadership Award: Innovation in Education
2009 to Present – Best Lawyers in America
2002 to Present – Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys
2008 – Public Justice Award, Washington State Trial Lawyer’s Association
2008 – Outstanding Lawyer Award, Seattle/King County Bar Association
1998 to Present – “Super Lawyer”, Washington State Attorneys
1998 – 2004 Governor Appointee, Washington State University Board of Regents Chairman
1997 – Distinguished Achievement Award, WSU College of Liberal Arts
2011 – Separating the Chaff From the Wheat: The Reality of Proving a Foodborne Illness Case. White Paper June.
2010 – Lawyers, Microbiologists, and Safe Food Microbiologist Magazine, Vol 11, No 2, June
2009 – Legal Issues for Food Safety: What Every Food Professional Should Know Food Safety and Quality Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 3 September
2009 – Serving Up Trouble American Association of Justice Trial Magazine, Vol 45, No 2 February 2007 – Food Safety and the CEO:(PDF) Keys to Bottom Line Success Food Safety Magazine, October/November.
2005 – Food Claims and Litigation (PDF) Food Safety In-sight Newsletter by Environ Health Associates, Inc, February
2005 – Separating the Chaff from the Wheat: How to Determine the Strength of a Foodborne Illness Claim (PDF) Paper presented at Defense Research Institute meeting on Food Liability
2005 – How to Keep Your Focus on Food Safety Food Safety Magazine, June-July.
2004 – How to Document a Food Poisoning Case (co-authored with David Babcock) Trial Magazine, November
Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. Coli Outbreak That Changed the Way Americans Eat, By Jeff Benedict
2022 – 3 key rules to follow when eating at restaurants, according to a lawyer who represents food poisoning victims, Insider, Andrea Michelson, April 2022
2022 – The Food Safety Imperative: Talking With Attorney Bill Marler, IFT, Jane M. Caldwell February 2022
2020 – A teenage runaway tries his hand at migrant work and becomes one of the most powerful food safety lawyers in the world / William Marler, Owner and Managing Partner, Marler Clark, LLP. The Good Story – When It Mattered Podcast Ep. 49 — Chitra Ragavan June 2020
2020 – Law360: Bill Marler and COVID-19 , Jill Coffey May 29
2020 – An Exclusive Conversation with Foodborne Illness Attorney Bill Marler QA Magazine, Lisa Lupo, March/April
2020 – He helped make burgers safer, Now he is fighting food poisoning again, Washington Post, January 19
2018 – Getting to Know Bill Marler – Stop Foodborne Illness, March 2018
2018 – Bill Marler: 25 Years of Food Safety, Food Safety Magazine, May 8
2018 – Bill Marler reflects on the case that launched his career in food safety, SeattleU Lawyer, Claudine Benmar, April 18
2018 – A Safer Food Supply, Trial Magazine, Kate Halloran, April 1
2017 – Seattle Litigator Bill Marler Follows the Food Chain Bloomberg News Cases and Controversies Podcast, Steven Sellers, December 18
2017 – Meet The Attorney Behind The Biggest Food Safety Cases KNKX, Gabriel Spitzer & Kevin Kniestedt, September 30
2017 – This Food Poisoning Expert Revealed The 6 Things He Refuses To Eat HealthyWay, R.J.Wilson, May 18
2016 – How one Attorney Is Trying to Make Food Safer Civil Beat News, Rui Kaneya, August 22
2016 – This genius lawyer is our best hope against deadly food poisoning Mother Jones, Kiera Butler, May 20
2016 – 7 Things We Learned About Food Safety Oversight From A Foodborne Illness Expert Consumerist, Ashlee Kieler, February 2
2015 – Profile in Obsession: Bill Marler, Naomi Tomky, March 24
2015 – The New Yorker – A Bug in the System The New Yorker, Wil S. Hylton, February 2
2014 – Q&A: Food Safety Lawyer Bill Marler on What Not to Eat The National Law Journal, Jenna Greene, November 3
2012 – Bill Marler, Attorney, Blogger, and Food Safety Advocate, Talks Turkey (Or Spinach, Rather) Miami New Times, Ily Goyanes, November 2
2012 – Bill Marler Interview, Part Two: His Most Difficult Cases and Lobbying Congress Miami New Times, 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 Associated Press, Shannon Dininny, October 9
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 New York Times, Mark Bittman, June 8
2011 – Bill Marler: A Personal Injury Attorney and More The Xemplar, Nicole Black, June 1
2011 – Good Food Hero: Bill Marler, Food Safety Attorney Good Food World, Gail Nickel-Kailing, May 23
2011- Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E. coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat Inspire Books, Jeff Benedict, May 15
2011 – New Book Chronicles Islander Marler’s Work Bainbridge Island Review, Connie Mears, May 13
2010 – Food Safety Lawyer Puts His Money Where Your Mouth Is AOL News, Andrew Schneider, September 29
2009 – Bill Marler: Taking on E.coli, BigAg, Raw Milk, Conspiracy Theorists, and the USDA Simple, Good, and Tasty, Shai Danielson, December 16
2009 – Food Safety Lawyer’s Wish: Put Me Out of Business Seattle Times, Maureen O’Hagan, November 23
2009 – WSU Discourse on Food Safety, Courtesy Seattle Lawyer Kitsap Sun, Tristan Baurick, August 29
2009 – Calling for Real Food Safety Reform: Bill Marler for FSIS Civil Eats, David Murphy, June 24
2009 – When Food Sickens, He Heads for Courthouse Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Matt McKinney, June 24
2009 – Bill Marler, The Food-Safety Litigator Culinate, Miriam Wolf, April
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 The Meating Place, Ann Bagel Storck, February 6
2009 – Five Minutes with Bill Marler, Well Known Lawyer, Food Safety Activist CattleNetwork, Chuck Jolley, February 5
2009 – Outspoken Food Safety Attorney Wants In The Washington Post, Ed O’Keefe, January 27
2008 – E. Coli Lawyer Is Busier Than Ever Associated Press, February 4
2007 – Legally Speaking: The Food Poisoning Lawyer The Southeast Texas Record, John G. Browning, November 20
2007 – The Nation’s Leading Food-borne Illness Attorney Tells All Washington State Magazine, Hannelore Sudermann, August
2007 – Food Fight Portland Oregonian, Alex Pulaski, March
2006 – How a Tiny Law Firm Made Hay Out of Tainted Spinach The Wall Street Journal, Heather Won Tesoriero and Peter Lattman, September 27
2001 – THE INSIDE STORY: How 11 School kids Got $4.75 Million in E. coli Lawsuit MeatingPlace.com, Bryan Salvage, March 7
2001 – Hammer Time: Preparation Pays When Disputes Escalate to Lawsuits Meat & Poultry Magazine, David Hendee
2001 – For Seattle Attorney, A Bacterium Brings Riches—and Enemies The Wall Street Journal, Rachel Zimmerman
2001 – The Bug That Ate The Burger Los Angeles Times, Emily Green, June
1999 – Courting Publicity, Attorney Makes Safe Food His Business Seattle Post, Maggie Leung, September 7