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.