From the pages of "Barfblog:"
Fifteen years ago this week, Seattle lawyer Bill Marler and Kansas State University professor Douglas Powell were drawn into the food safety arena when the Washington Department of Health announced that Jack in the Box restaurants were the source of a multi-state outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Now, the two are teaming up to further promote awareness of food safety.
Marler, who has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks since representing more than 100 victims of the Jack in the Box outbreak, has pledged to donate $25,000 to Powell’s group, the International Food Safety Network — iFSN — at Kansas State University. The group, which was formed in 1993 when Powell began researching the impact and influence of food safety information on farmers, processors, retailers, consumers and regulators, produces several electronic mailing lists to disseminate food safety information across the globe. In addition, Marler has pledged to match all other donations made to iFSN in 2008, up to $25,000.
In thanking Marler for the donation, Powell said, "All money donated to iFSN will be used to fund students in developing and carrying out a variety of projects. These will focus on the use of new media and new messages to compel individuals from farm-to-fork to take steps to reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.
"Bill Marler is an outstanding advocate for food safety and understands that microbiologically safe food just doesn’t happen," said Powell. "Any lawyer can talk the talk. Bill walks the talk."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million Americans get sick and 5,000 die each and every year after consuming contaminated food and water. The Jack in the Box outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, which killed four and sickened over 600, was the tipping point for American public awareness of the risks posed by dangerous microorganisms in food.
I actually did it for the t-shirts.