Its been a busy week.
Stephanie Armour of Bloomberg – “Expanded E. Coli Testing on Hold Until June 4, USDA Officials Announce:”
The industry has fought the regulation, saying there’s no proof the expanded testing will prevent illnesses or outbreaks and that it may cost as much as $300 million a year.
“Hopefully this will stop the excuses by industry,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer who obtained about $30 million in legal settlements against Jack in the Box Inc. (JACK) following a 1994 outbreak linked to E. coli. “I’m not at all surprised they’re giving the industry a little more time.”
Barry Estabrook of the Atlantic – “Restaurant A: How Bill Marler Tied Taco Bell to Salmonella Outbreaks:”
It should have read “How Food Safety News Tied Taco Bell to the Salmonella Outbreaks:”
Reporters from Food Safety News, the online newspaper funded by Marler’s firm, contacted all six of the possible companies. They either refused to reply or insisted that they were not Restaurant Chain A. The reporters kept digging and eventually came across a document from Oklahoma’s Department of Health. (Oklahoma was one of the affected states.) Marked “for internal use only” the document was called “Summary of Supplemental Questionnaire Responses Specific to Taco Bell Exposure of Oklahoma Outbreak Associated Cases Multistate Salmonella Enterititis Outbreak Investigation” (PDF). It’s a long, convoluted title, but the important words were “Taco Bell.”
Marler is nothing if not tenacious — just ask the food processers who have paid more than $600 million to his clients in the past two decades.
A restaurant poisons its customers. A government agency colludes to keep its identity under wraps. And it takes a scrappy trial attorney to uncover the truth for Americans. Talk about a sickening situation.
And, then there was Jon Humbert at KVAL talking about meat glue – “There’s the beef! Now what’s in it?”
Food safety lawyer Bill Marler battles companies that cut corners to get food onto customers’ plates.
“I thought it was a joke,” Marler said of the meat glue.
He said there’s a serious gross-out factor when he sees online videos of the tasteless, odorless powder turning stew meat into steak.
“I’m a real firm believer that consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their bodies,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration says meat glue is regarded as safe as long as fused food is cooked to at least 165 degrees.
The problem is that while a steak ordered well done will reach that temperature, anything ordered medium well and below could have bacteria growing at the glue points.
E. coli, Taco Bell and Meat Glue all in one week. Is that like a hat trick?