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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Food Safety Speeches 2010 and 2011

QuantasL0801_468x304.jpgIn between my day job as managing partner at Marler Clark, my evening job as blogger at Marler Blog and my middle of the night job as publisher at Food Safety News, I spend some time traveling the world pitching “why it is a bad idea to poison your customers.” Here are some upcoming trips:

September 7-9, 2010 – Australian Food Safety Conference, Melbourne, Australia

September 13-14, 2010 – New Zealand Food Safety Authority Conference, Auckland, New Zealand

October 17-20, 2010- Food Microbiology Symposium, University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wisconsin

October 27-28, 2010 – ACI Food-borne Illness Litigation Conference, Chicago, Illinois

November 3, 2010 – International Conference for Food Safety and Quality, San Francisco, California

November 4, 2010 – University of Arkansas Law School Lecture, Fayetteville, Arkansas

November 10-12, 2010 – China International Food Safety Conference, Shanghai, China

February 21-24, 2011 – Dubai Food Safety Conference, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

March 23-24, 2011 – Canada Food Processors Association, Calgary, Alberta

May 12, 2011 – Red Meat Abattoir Association, Pretoria, South Africa

  • John Munsell

    If a handful of consumers are sickened, or even die, hundreds of millions of consumers still purchase food, so the loss of a few are not noticed. And, these poisonings are unintended, not purposefully perpetrated. However, a sinister and somewhat unnoticed watershed change is occuring before our eyes, which portend an unwelcome scenario.
    In previous recessions, America has recovered and we recommenced production of goods and services. Unfortunately, we’ve shuttered our factories in recent years, outsourcing the production of consumer goods to other countries where environmental concerns are nonexistent, pesticides and herbicides are unregulated, and labor is cheaper and abundant. As our factories have closed, and concentration has occurred in increasingly vertically integrated industries, America (& the globe) have become dependent on large, multinational companies. If American food products are in short supply, driving up costs, these transnational behemoths merely purchase from a plethora of other countries, driving down prices paid to domestic food manufacturers.
    Years ago, domestic food companies treasured a sovereign and strong America, goals which were met via a thriving agricultural sector. These food companies partnered in a symbiotic relationship with American food producers, in which both sides benefitted from engaging in business with each other. As these companies morphed into transnational monoliths, their symbiotic relationship is now with the globe, certainly not America. If flour is cheaper in China, American farmers lose out, realizing they are prevented from lacing their flour with melamine. Who cares? Certainly not the global traders.
    Approximately 1% of our imports are inspected. Of this 1%, a goodly percentage is rejected. The rejects are frequently rerouted to other ports, where they likely will NOT be inspected. If 50% of imported food was inspected, who can hazard a guess as to what would be detected, and how consumers would respond?
    Bottom line: the marketing of our food is increasingly controlled by a relative oligarchy of global companies, whose focus is NOT food safety or public health, but corporate profits. As they gain control over their industries, aided by the disappearance of traditional competitors, the survivors can control commodity costs, while increasing retail prices. The resulting profits easily cover the occasional litigation expenses which accompany outbreaks. These companies do not intentionally poison consumers. Instead, they focus exclusively on maximizing profits. Simultaneously, America suffers because we’ve closed our domestic factories, concentrated food production in corporate farms rather than in the hands of countless small local producers, and increased our dependence on imported food of questionable safety. This is a recession from which we will not recover.
    Thirty years ago, domestic food marketers would have fully agreed with Bill Marler’s comment that poisoning consumers is not good business. Times have changed.
    John Munsell, Manager
    Foundation for Accountability in Regulatory Enforcement (FARE)
    Miles City, MT
    September 5, 2010

  • doc raymond

    John, I just want the readers of FSN to understand better your statement about imports. It is probably true overall, but meat and poultry imports are all (with one exception) reinspected at one of about 140 import houses. Meat and poultry cannot legally come fhru any other ports. About 5 % are tested for residues and pathogens. Any rejected product is destroyed, not sent to another port of entry.
    With this caveat, I agree with your reblog.