Bill Marler is a managing partner and personal injury lawyer at Marler Clark LLP, PS, and also a national expert in foodborne illness litigation and U.S. and international food safety policy. With his partners, he represents individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products cause serious injury and death.
Marler began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, resulting in her landmark $15.6 million settlement. Marler has focused his practice on representing individuals in litigation resulting from E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, hepatitis A and other food contamination cases.
Under the umbrella of OutBreak, the nonprofit consulting arm of Marler Clark dedicated to food safety advocacy, Marler speaks to food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses and the issues surrounding it. He keeps a blog at www.marlerblog.com.
What is the single most important thing that can be done (by food growers, producers, government, consumers – any, or all of the above) to improve food safety in the United States?
B.M.: Prepare food, from farm to fork, like you were preparing it for your 4-year-old child. Do it safely.
10 Commandments of Food Safety
Bill Marler tells us whether he abides by the following food safety recommendations.
1. I use a “refrigerator thermometer” to keep my food stored at a safe temperature (below 40°F).
2. I always defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave or in cold water, never on the counter.
3. I always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and produce/cooked foods.
4. I always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.
5. I avoid unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.
6. I never eat “runny” eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.
7. I always wash my hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry or eggs.
8. I always heat leftover foods to 165ºF.
9. I never eat meat, poultry, eggs or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures hotter than 90°F).
10. Whenever there’s a food recall, I check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.