As we planned the launch of this blog, many asked, “Why the fuss now about food liability?”  Food poisoning has always been a part of human history.  Food liability litigation has been around for a long time.  Products liability law traces its roots to food cases. The answer has several parts. 

 

Some of the most dangerous pathogens such as shiga toxin-producing E. coli and BSE have appeared only recently. Others such as listeria are becoming more virulent. Detection of food-borne pathogens by public health departments grows more frequent by the day. The combination of Darwinian evolution and better detection may continue a spike in reported, serious, food-borne illness.  I wrote about these issues in more depth recently in www.stoel.com/showarticle.aspx.

Food liability litigation is also expanding in a big way beyond food poisoning. For example, the explosive growth of the organic foods industry is creating rifts between “family-sized” and “industrial” farming. Last year saw litigation emerge challenging whether USDA-certified organic milk is really “organic” and whether it violates state consumer fraud statutes. Also on the horizon is consumer litigation concerning diacetyl, perchlorate, and other naturally occurring chemicals in food being linked to cancer and other adverse human health conditions.

As far as I am aware, this is the only blog to address food liability from a business perspective (as opposed to a plaintiff’s lawyer’s perspective).