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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Investing in Food Safety – Why You Cannot Afford Not To

I was quoted the other day in USA Today about investing in food safety BEFORE an outbreak happens that sickens hundreds and drives your business and others into the ground: “It’s a good investment, says Bill Marler, a prominent Seattle-based food-safety lawyer who has already filed eight lawsuits against PCA. ‘You always worry that you’ll spend $2,000 more a month to do testing, but if that $2,000 can save from going bankrupt or losing hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s a cheap investment.’"

PCA, (Peanut Corporation of America), now facing criminal sanctions is now bankrupt, costing hundreds of people their jobs and according to the Georgia Peanut Commission, “the outbreak may cost peanut producers $1 billion in lost production and sales.” As of April 3, 3883 different peanut containing products have been recalled from some 200 companies. Recall costs are in the hundreds of millions of dollars and some of those companies have also filed for bankruptcy. Peanut product exports have fallen. At a time when our economy is on its knees, this is all clearly an unnecessary waste.

And, then there are the victims, to date the CDC has reported nearly 700 ill with 150 hospitalized and nine deaths. Costs, perhaps incalculable.

Bottom Line, PCA’s Georgia and Texas peanut manufacturing facilities were seldom inspected, rat and bird infested that leaked when it rained. How much would it have cost to keep the rats, birds and rain out? How much would it have cost to inspect the plants? How much would it have cost to test finished products for bacteria that could kill customers? My guess, perhaps tens of thousands over many years.

Whatever the cost, my hunch is it would have been a lot less than the illnesses, deaths, bankruptcies, job losses and prison time.