Category: Emerging Pathogens

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New FSIS Policy on the “Big Six” Takes Effect Today

Between November 1992 and February 1993, the United States experienced one of the nation’s worst foodborne illness outbreaks in recent history. State health agencies, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ultimately confirmed that more than 500 infections and 4 deaths were caused by consuming hamburgers tainted with E. coli O157:H7. This … Continue Reading

Multiple Occurrences in a Single E.Coli Outbreak: Double-Edged Sword for Insureds?

Marler Clark clients and the owners of the restaurant that sold MarlerClark’s clients food they claim was contaminated with E.coli O111 joined forces against the restaurant’s insurer. In the end, the peronsal injury plaintiffs and the restaurant insured convinced the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma  on a Rule 56 summary judgment motion that a … Continue Reading

Listeria Recall Toolkit

The FDA recently took the relatively unusual step of obtaining a court-issued warrant to seize all cheese products at Estrella Family Creamery, a small, family-owned artisan cheese maker in Washington State. According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, "the FDA asked Estrella to recall all cheese products. The company … Continue Reading

Some Take-Aways from ACI’s 3rd National Forum on Food-Borne Illness Litigation

American Conference Institute (ACI) recently held its latest conference on food-borne illness litigation. The conference has been a fairly intimate gathering of the nation’s lawyers, insurers and experts involved with food-borne illness litigation. This year, I had the privilege of moderating an in-house counsel “think tank.” The panel was composed of lawyers from a nice … Continue Reading

Video From Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety

University of Nebraska has posted video on its website from the entire three days of the 2009 Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety. You can view my presentation on Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks. More important, you view the presentations of Dr. Andrew Benson and the other scientists who offer fascinating insights into the … Continue Reading

Assessing Risks of Chemicals in Foods with Limited Scientific Information

An important study was released this month by the Institute of Food Technologists addressing the challenge of responding to food contamination with limited scientific information. Ricardo Carvajal at Hyman, Phelps & McNamara wrote about this on the FDALawBlog last week. You can read the summary by Rosetta L. Newsome here. Ms. Newsome summarizes the three main sections of … Continue Reading

Tort Damages Not the Only Exposure from Food-Borne Illness Outbreaks

For lawyers and insurance adjustors, compartmentalizing food-borne illness claims is easy. They often see their jobs solely as minimizing the tort liability and legal fees. In my experience, attorneys and adjustors often fail to appreciate how outbreaks can affect a client’s (or even a whole industry’s) business going forward. Often, the long-term business losses of a … Continue Reading

Why Are Food-borne Organisms Associated with Beef?

 USDA’s Be Food Safe Twitter Feed circulated its Fact Sheet titled “Beef . . . from Farm to Table.” First published a few years ago, this might be of interest to businesses involved in the sale, marketing, labeling, and/or packaging of beef. The article is a helpful primer on the history of beef, current industry practices, USDA’s … Continue Reading

Tracking the Food Safety Working Group – More or Less Legal Exposure For Food Sellers?

This week the Obama administration announced the launch of a new website for the recently formed food safety working group. Obama announced the formation of this group in March in the wake of the high-profile food safety issues surrounding PCA peanut products.  This website will assist in tracking the efforts of the working group. As discussed … Continue Reading

USDA Says Continued Research Needed on Distillers Grains

The Nebraska Governor’s Conference on Ensuring Food Safety included a lively discussion on distillers grains and E. coli O157:H7. Dr. Jim Wells at USDA presented data that appears to show some correlation between certain levels of cattle-fed distillers grains and the levels of O157 that appeared in the hides of cattle. Recent research suggests that … Continue Reading

2009 Priorities for USDA in Food Safety

I just returned from ACI’s Second National Forum on Food-Borne Illness, which included several interesting presentations and discussions. One was by Dan Engeljohn, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Policy and Program Development at the Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”). Mr. Engeljohn spoke about FSIS’s priorities for “2009 and beyond.” Takeaways from this … Continue Reading

Breakthrough in Detection of BSE (a.k.a. “Mad Cow Disease”)

No food-borne illness induces consumer fear like Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE a.k.a. "Mad Cow Disease"). The beef industry in particular has gone to great lengths to take preventative steps against the introduction of BSE into U.S. herds. A big problem in controlling BSE is that it’s difficult to detect. The only detection method currently available … Continue Reading

Update On Distillers Grains – E. coli Link Not Established

By Guest Blogger Jason Johns We’ve previously discussed ongoing research concerning safety of distillers grains previously. An article on distillers grains and E. coli in Distillers Grains Monthly (Third Quarter 2008) suggests that the scientific debate continues, and questions remain unanswered. Conflicting studies have now been released by Kansas State University and the University of … Continue Reading

Raw Milk Debate: Ground Zero For The Conflict Between Consumer Rights and Consumer Protection?

First a disclaimer: Personally, I’m not convinced of the health benefits of raw milk, though I’m told many exist. I’m also not convinced of the argument that raw milk is less safe than pasteurized milk. After all, foodborne disease continues to be transmitted by pasteurized milk, despite its pasteurization. Two weeks ago saw a significant … Continue Reading

FSIS to Begin Testing for Non-O157 E. Coli

Dr. Richard Raymond, Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA, dropped a bombshell this week. As reported in the Des Moines Register, Dr. Raymond explained at the Seattle University food law symposium that his agency will begin testing for at least six different non-O157 E. coli strains in meat, poultry, and eggs. This is an … Continue Reading

Stay Tuned for More Non-O157 Information

Tomorrow FSIS will hold a meeting to discuss “challenges and proposed solutions in moving forward to address recalls and illnesses related to E. coli O157:H7.”  The meeting will “explore proposed next steps as a means to make progress in the challenge of addressing E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157:H7 STECs.”. FSIS is also planning a “short … Continue Reading

CDC Believes That Risks Associated with Leafy Greens Have Been on the Rise

Following the high-profile leafy greens E. coli outbreaks in 2006, CDC started studying the trends. It concluded that “during 1996 2005 leafy green consumption increased 9% and leafy green-associated outbreaks increased 39%,” according to a recent article on ScienceDaily. Therefore even taking into account the increase in leafy greens consumption, associated food-borne outbreaks are on … Continue Reading
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