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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

European E. coli O104:H4 Update – Is the United States willing to pay to to prevent it from happening here?

The European Union reports 50 European deaths, 4,236 Ill with 898 suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome:

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The World Health Organization reports similar numbers of The European Union reports 50 European deaths, 4,136 Ill with 896 suffering from hemolytic uremic syndrome (a few days behind), but includes numbers from the United States:

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I spoke to Molly Peterson of Bloomberg News for her article this morning “FDA Seeks $1.4 Billion for Food-Safety Law as Budget Faces Cuts.” My point being that the republican-lead budget cutting of food safety is short-sighted. As Ms. Peterson wrote:

A vote in the Republican-controlled House last month to reduce the FDA’s fiscal 2012 food-safety budget by 10 percent to $752 million, the agency estimates, will slow the law’s progress if enacted, say supporters of the January legislation. Representative Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who oversees the budgets of the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said increases are unnecessary because the food supply is “99.9 percent safe.”

That view may be short-sighted, given the type of epidemic in Europe, said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents food poisoning victims. The outbreak among those who ate German-grown sprouts was deadlier than earlier E. coli epidemics because it combined traits of two strains, raising risks for a potentially fatal kidney complications.

“We have all of the tools to prevent a disaster like Germany’s,” Marler said in an interview. “It’s just a matter of, are we willing to pay for it.”

So, are we?

  • Sam

    “99.9% safe”?
    Let’s break it down; this means that one in every one thousand meals could result in illness or death.
    If you eat three meals a day, then you could expect to be sickened or killed at least once every 334 days (if we accept the threshold of 99.9% safe).
    The acceptable number used for developing a HACCP plan is 99.999%. This means that a HACCP regulated process will reduce the incidence of pathogenic bacteria by a five log factor. One in every 100,000 pathogenic bacteria will survive such a process. This is federally mandated for the seafood, and juice industries.
    My point is that, unlike horse shoes and hand grenades, “close” is not good enough for food safety.
    I wonder how many children will die of kidney failure before our fearless leaders take food safety seriously.