I am holed up in my hotel in Minneapolis preparing for a meeting Friday morning with the lawyers for the defendants in the Nebraska Beef case. Also, working on the Cargill E. coli and the recent Peanut Butter Salmonella cases. It is 20 below zero outside. I did not bring my ice fishing pole nor my ice skates, so I took the time to re-read my partner, Denis Stearns’s well-written Motion for Punitive Damages (click on below to download). I look forward to arguing this in a few weeks. For those who follow my blog this (actually anything Denis writes) is well worth the read.
All the legalese aside, the Motion tells the story, not just of one badly run and out-of-control slaughterhouse, but also of a US food safety system on life support. Re-reading it again reminds me of the failure of the “farm to fork” system to produce a consistently safe product. Whether it is the politician who blindly supports ethanol production and the distiller grain leftovers; the feedlot that feeds cattle that grain despite research that it increases the bacterial count of E. coli O157:H7, the slaughterhouses that at times seems more concerned with speed of production than safety, the grocery story that is more concerned with price than quality, and the regulators who turn a blind eye to the system that has lost its way.
Hyperbole, perhaps a bit, but truth within it – absolutely. But, spare me the criticism until after you read what these failures did to Ellie Wheeler and Carolyn Hawkinson and their families (click on either below to download).
The time has come for those responsible for our food chain to be just that – responsible.