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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Trans-fats, lawsuits and E. coli dominate 2006 headlines

Fred Minnick of QSR wrote today in his 2006 “In Review” about banning trans-fats and E. coli litigation – both of which I enjoy, but trans-fats not in as many locations.

This was one year that operators didn’t necessarily have control over their own fate. Politicians debated banning trans-fats, spinach was contaminated with E. coli, and many brands faced a plethora of litigation.

E. coli was another big headline maker in the QSR segment as Taco Bell and Taco John’s served food contaminated with the virus. Both brands quickly responded to consumer and public concerns with targeted store closures and the temporary removal of green onions from its menu. Taco John’s even paid hospital bills for those inflicted with the illness. Despite their efforts, however, both brands are being sued.

“This latest outbreak is proof that the food industry has not done enough to protect consumers from deadly pathogens like E. coli O157:H7,” said William Marler, a food safety advocate who has represented over a thousand victims of E. coli outbreaks. “It is time for Congress to step into the arena and call hearings to explore the causes of recent outbreaks and to help prevent future outbreaks from happening.”

It seems as though Congress listened to Marler, who also represented the plaintiffs in the 1993 Jack in the Box case.

“We’ve just got to go in and have, really, a top-to-bottom look at what is going on,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat. The food safety system “appears to have broken down when you have these outbreaks almost every single week.”