Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Recall of frozen pizza, beef products labeled high health risk, says U.S. Department of Food Safety and Inspection

I had a long chat with Jeff Alexander of The Gardner News on Tuesday.  We talked about ffood safety generally and the Pot Pie case in particular Here is his article (or, at least where I am quoted):

The pot pie suit is being handled by Bill Marler; his experience with recalls includes a substantial settlement against Jack In The Box for previous E. coli outbreaks. Mr. Marler offered his views and experience with food recalls. “A lot of recall decisions that get made are based on finances and not wanting to hurt businesses; most people get sick from a food-borne illness and never know what made them sick or even killed them,” said Mr. Marler. “Civil litigation is a way of making companies responsible.” Asked what he feels is contributing to the recent increase in food recalls, Mr. Marler said, “It’s really crazy these recalls, the wheels of the food safety bus has kind of all come off and in 14 years of doing this, I’ve never seen this kind of activity.” Mr. Marler said he thought recalls were based on the moral judgment of companies. “Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where businesses make decisions on pure moral decisions; the economics is they might not get caught and hedge on the side of the product, even if it may be contaminated,” he said. Mr. Marler referenced a beef recall of Topp’s frozen hamburgers and the sickness a child in Florida experienced. “For every one person counted by Center for Disease Control, there’s between 20 and 40 times that number that actually got sick and it’s difficult to prove a case on their behalf ; most companies are betting that if doesn’t get in the news or don’t recall they maybe won’t get caught.”

Full article below:

The U.S. Department of Food Safety and Inspection recently announced a recall of 1,084,384 million pounds of ground beef products from Cargill Meat Solutions that may contain E. coli. This is the second meat-related recall in one week and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the Class I recall as a high health risk to all consumers. In a Cargill press release, John Keating, president of Cargill Regional Beef said, “No illnesses have been associated with this product and we are working closely with the USDA to remove the product from the marketplace.” According to Cargill’s Web site, Massachusetts is among the 10 states included in the recall, and Stop & Shop was listed as one of the retailers that stocks Cargill products. According to a Stop & Shop press release, ground beef and ground beef patties with use-by freeze-by dates of Oct. 19, Oct. 31, and Nov. 3 are subjected to the recall. The Stop & Shop recall is part of a larger nationwide recall by Cargill Meat Solutions, which is a supplier of Stop & Shop fresh ground beef and ground beef patties. General Mills is another food company involved in a recall and it announced Friday that it would be voluntarily recalling Totino’s and Jeno’s brand frozen pizzas because of possible E coli contamination in the pepperoni toppings. According to a General Mills press release, the recall affects approximately 414,000 cases of pizza products. Tom Forsythe, a spokesperson with General Mills said, “The main message for consumers is worrying about a source, and at this point there is not even a link to date because we haven’t found E coli in our plants.” He added, “This is a precaution and consumers have appreciated this, and in light of the situation, we responded to the potential that our products have E. coli.” According to General Mills, retailers have responded well to removing the recalled products from their shelves. General Mills said state and federal authorities uncovered the potential problem investigating 21 E. coli-related illnesses in 10 states; the earliest case reported to authorities occurred July 20, and the latest case was reported Oct. 10. Totino’s and Jeno’s is based in Minnesota, where a current lawsuit against ConAgra Foods involving a massive frozen pot pie recall is continuing. The pot pie suit is being handled by Bill Marler; his experience with recalls includes a substantial settlement against Jack In The Box for previous E. coli outbreaks. Mr. Marler offered his views and experience with food recalls. “A lot of recall decisions that get made are based on finances and not wanting to hurt businesses; most people get sick from a food-borne illness and never know what made them sick or even killed them,” said Mr. Marler. “Civil litigation is a way of making companies responsible.” Asked what he feels is contributing to the recent increase in food recalls, Mr. Marler said, “It’s really crazy these recalls, the wheels of the food safety bus has kind of all come off and in 14 years of doing this, I’ve never seen this kind of activity.” Mr. Marler said he thought recalls were based on the moral judgment of companies. “Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where businesses make decisions on pure moral decisions; the economics is they might not get caught and hedge on the side of the product, even if it may be contaminated,” he said. Mr. Marler referenced a beef recall of Topp’s frozen hamburgers and the sickness a child in Florida experienced. “For every one person counted by Center for Disease Control, there’s between 20 and 40 times that number that actually got sick and it’s difficult to prove a case on their behalf ; most companies are betting that if doesn’t get in the news or don’t recall they maybe won’t get caught.”