Some of my comments below have sparked a debate that needs to be had. Should grocery stores be responsible for the food they sell? If the manufacturer is from outside the United States or bankrupt, should the wholesaler and retailer be responsible for injuries caused by the product sold? Or, should the customer be without a remedy?
It is a policy debate in my mind that is well settled. Someone who profits from the sale of a product, must be responsible to the customer if that product causes harm. The alternative is that the victim is left to personally absorb the cost or it is borne by taxpayers. How is that fair?
Bloomberg – Wal-Mart Listeria Suit Prompts Costco Checks
Fallout from the outbreak that’s killed 29 Americans is broadening to other major retailers that sold the tainted produce and is spurring a national debate on the role groceries and stores should play in making the food- supply chain safe.
“Retailers are going to be left holding the bag,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle-based lawyer who’s filed at least eight lawsuits targeting both the Colorado farm, its distributor and Wal-Mart. “The grocery stores and retailers who sold the product — from big-box stores to road-side stands — are going to have to step in and fill the gap.”
Victims of the listeria outbreak may file claims seeking more than $100 million, Marler said in a telephone interview. A U.S. House committee is investigating the outbreak and may hold hearings.
Some food-safety advocates say it’s time for grocers to take more responsibility than that, especially with foods that cause repeated damage. Hamburger, unpasteurized dairy, spinach, cantaloupes and other products have often been at the heart of dangerous outbreaks.
“At some point, the grocery store has to make a legal or moral decision: ‘We’re not responsible for the food we sold these people,’ ” Marler said.
What are your thoughts?