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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

CNN Classroom Edition: Danger: Poisoned Food

It is good to see that CNN will be airing Dr. Gupta’s show in our Nation’s classrooms over the next few weeks.  My only thought is that the focus is primarily of the “leafy green industry,” when given the red meat recalls and illnesses over the last several weeks, we should be once again focusing our attention to the beef industry.  The questions below are great.  Students, however, should not be the only ones answering them – how about government and industry?

Discussion Questions

1. What is E. coli, and how is it spread? Why is E. coli O157: H7 so virulent? What symptoms are associated with E. coli infection?

2. How did E. coli poisoning impact Ruby Trautz, Ashley Armstrong and her family?

3. Why was spinach banned from grocery stores in the fall of 2006? How did health officials identify the source of the contamination? To what extent, if any, did this spinach ban impact you?

4. What measures is California farmer Rod Braga taking to keep his produce from becoming contaminated by E. coli? What are the biggest risk factors for contamination?

5. What role does the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play in promoting food safety in the U.S.? According to Robert Bracket, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, what measures is the FDA is currently taking to prevent outbreaks of E. coli in leafy greens? What challenges does the FDA face in terms of preventing contamination of leafy greens?

6. Why does Andrew Kimbrell, head of the Center for Food Safety, feel that food safety in the United States “is broken”? What criticisms does he make about the FDA? Based on the information in the program, do you think that these accusations are warranted? Why or why not?

7. According to lawyer Bill Marler, what measures should farmers and the U.S. government be taking to enhance the safety of leafy green vegetables?

8. How did the E. coli outbreaks of 1992 and 1993 impact the U.S. meat industry? What changes did the meat industry implement to improve food safety as a result of these outbreaks?

9. What is irradiation, and how is it used to promote food safety? Why do you think that some people might be reluctant to eat irradiated food? What is your view on irradiating food? Do you think that all raw meat and fresh produce should be irradiated? Why or why not?

10. In your view, what might the FDA, farmers, food processors and retailers do to enhance the safety of leafy greens and other fresh produce? Do you think that government food safety rules should be voluntary or mandatory? State your rationale.

11. To what extent, if any, did this program impact your views on food safety? Do you think that the convenience of eating pre-washed bagged produce is worth the risk? State your rationale.