Tag: outbreak

FSIS Tells Ground Poultry Producers to Reassess Their Food Safety Plans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a press release on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, announcing that companies producing raw ground chicken and turkey and similar products will be required to reassess their sanitation procedures and pathogen control plans over the next few months. Specifically, over the next 90 days, … Continue Reading

Food Companies Should Revisit Insurance Program and Other Risk Management in Light of Emerging Massive European Union E. coli Outbreak

The E. coli outbreak unraveling now in the European Union, centered primarily in Germany, is setting new records for both the number of affected persons and the number of persons diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a serious complication from E. coli infection (HUS can lead to kidney failure, brain damage and death). As of … 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

A Traceability Story: Request for Comments

Jim Prevor has an intriguing story in one of his latest Perishable Pundits, updated here and here, that frankly has me wondering.  According to Jim, Freshway Foods discovered E.Coil 0145 in some romaine and, using tracking numbers, was able to trace it to a specific lot supplied by a grower in Yuma, Arizona.  It then … Continue Reading

Preserving the Brand and Avoiding Media Backlash During a Crisis

I’ll be moderating and speaking on a panel at the upcoming ACI’s Advanced Summit on Food Safety Regulatory Compliance in Chicago, June 28-29. Scott Rickman from Del Monte, public relations professionals and I will be presenting on  "Effectively Responding to Negative Media Coverage: How to Avoid the Backlash" (If you plan to attend, register soon and contact … 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

Comment On Recent New York Times E. Coli and Beef Article: How Retailers Can Protect Themselves

Co-Authored By Guest Blogger Scott Hansen According to its website, last Sunday’s New York Times article on E. coli and beef is among the most widely read pieces published by the newspaper this week. The article tells the story of a 22-year-old Minnesota dance instructor who was left paralyzed after being infected with a strain of E. … Continue Reading

PCA Investigation: Anatomy of A Recall

FDA has a short video "anatomy of a recall" about the investigation of the Salmonella outbreak and recalls associated with Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). Anyone interested in learning how the federal government  (with the help of Minnesota’s "Team Diarrhea") goes about a food borne illness investigation and recall should take a look.    … Continue Reading

Hungry for Change: ABA Journal on Food Safety Reform and Its History

Kristin Choo has written a piece for the ABA Journal tracking the history of food safety regulation, recent outbreaks and current legislation pending in Congress. I am grateful to be mentioned in the piece. The article can be found at this link.  Ms. Choo writes: Litigation is likely to increase as a pumped-up FDA, an arm of … Continue Reading

Before the Outbreak, Preapprove Defense Counsel with Insurer

When a food-borne illness outbreak happens, few food companies (especially those whose brand is at stake) want an unfamiliar defense lawyer who has little knowledge about food-borne illness responding to claims asserted against them. Unless a food company maintains a high, self-insured retention or has the lawyer of its choosing preselected, its insurer might appoint … Continue Reading

Tool For Food Companies and Litigators – New Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response

Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (“CIFOR”) has published new guidelines designed to help local, state and federal agencies to improve their response to outbreaks. I became aware of this (again) through Ricardo Carvajal, who was a reviewer for the guidelines, and his firm’s FDA Law Blog. I agree with Ricardo that while the guidelines … 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

Future of Food Litigation and Obama’s Food Safety Working Group

President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group announced its Key Findings on July 7. Three groups of initiatives were announced: 1) Salmonella, 2) National Traceback and Response System, and 3) Improved Organization of Federal Food Safety Responsibilities. All of these represent major shifts in food policy. Coming changes will impact nearly every part of the nation’s food … 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

Liability Limits: How Much Should Your Food Company Maintain?

Food business clients frequently want to ensure that they have sufficient liability limits in the event of an outbreak (they also want to make sure they have adequate coverage, but this is a separate discussion). Determining the amount of a business’s limits depends on the business’s possible exposures. No one-size-fits-all formula is available. Every business … Continue Reading

Improved Surveillance Will Lead to More Food-Borne Illness Claims

We’ve explained previously in this blog why increased surveillance by state and federal agencies will lead to detection of more outbreaks (and, therefore, more legal exposure). Others seem to agree. Law360 published a nice interview with Jim Neale at McGuire Woods, another lawyer experienced in the food liability arena ( a Law360 subscription is needed … Continue Reading

Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

I’m asked frequently about the “anatomy of litigation.” I plan to write more in this space on the topic. For now, some may find useful the slides from a presentation I gave recently on “Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks.” I discussed what I see as three prototypes of consumer claims and possible strategies to respond … Continue Reading

Are Organic Foods Safer? Will Consumers Continue to Favor Organics?

Nobody disputes that consumers have a favorable view of organic certification in foods. Consumers generally believe that organic foods are healthier, and many believe they taste better. Yet, among food scientists, uncertainty prevails as to whether organics are safer, especially raw fruits and vegetables. Absence of synthetic fertilizers is a primary distinction between organic and … Continue Reading

Pork Producers Feel Effects of Swine Flu

Pork producers are feeling the effects of the swine flu as the number of reported cases of the virus increases.  Stock prices for Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor, and Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, fell 12 percent and 9 percent today, respectively.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the prices of hogs, corn, and … Continue Reading

FDA and CDC Warn of Salmonella in Raw Sprouts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending against eating raw alfalfa sprouts because of potential salmonella contamination. According to the FDA, the salmonella contamination appears to be in seeds for alfalfa sprouts. As of yesterday, 31 cases of illness with Salmonella Saintpaul have been reported to the … Continue Reading

Georgia House Unanimously Passes Food Safety Bill; Kellogg CEO Calls for Food Safety Reforms

Update to today’s earlier post: the Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill today that would strengthen food safety laws in Georgia. The Georgia House and Senate now will resolve minor differences in the proposed legislation and send a final version to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature. Also today, the AP reports that … Continue Reading

What to Do When the Investigators Knock . . .

This week brought news of yet another nationwide Salmonella outbreak from a source not yet identified by government regulators. The last time we had a nationwide Salmonella outbreak for an extended period of time without identification of a definitive source the federal government initially singled out tomatoes imported from Mexico (a huge array of products). … Continue Reading

Five New Year’s Resolutions

Unfortunately, 2009 does not promise to be any easier than 2008 in protecting your business against food liability claims. Many argue that threats will only increase in the new year. Here are five things you can do to reduce exposure in the coming year: 1. Review Insurance Coverage and Limits Carefully – Both the variety and … Continue Reading

Another Reminder Why Indemnification and Insurance Requirements Are Important

Last month, a state judge in Minnesota awarded summary judgment to a lettuce supplier of restaurants associated with an E. coli outbreak in 2006. The restaurant supplier brought suit against its suppliers. The suit appears to have been based at least in part on an indemnification agreement between Vistar (which delivered lettuce to restaurants) and … Continue Reading
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