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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

What do Spinach, Lettuce and Peanut Butter have in common?

Answer – Congressional Hearings

Full Hearing Written Testimony and Podcast Here

Andrew Bridge of the Associated Press wrote today of Congressman Stupak’s led panel shines spotlight on food safety.  Part of the story is below, the rest of the story (whether Congress actually does something) has still not been written.

Families victimized by tainted spinach and peanut butter put a human face Tuesday on a recent string of high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illness, urging lawmakers to strengthen federal oversight of the nation’s food supply. "I can’t protect them from spinach — only you guys can. I can’t," said Michael Armstrong, as he and wife, Elizabeth, cradled daughters Ashley, 2, and Isabella, 5. The two girls fell ill — Ashley gravely — in September after eating a salad made with a triple-washed bag of the leafy greens contaminated by E. coli.

Also testifying was Gary Pruden, whose 11-year-old son Sean was seriously sickened in November by E. coli after eating at a Taco Bell restaurant. Pruden said a key element of trade and commerce is trust — whether placed in accountants, airline pilots or auto mechanics. "That is also extended to the trust in the food we order or buy from the grocery store — that it’s edible and safe. Without that trust, commerce cannot work. And where failure occurs, oversight is required," Pruden told the subcommittee.

The popular Peter Pan brand of peanut butter was the subject of a nationwide recall in February after a salmonella outbreak. Terri Marshall said her mother-in-law, Mora Lou Marshall, has been hospitalized or in a nursing home since early January, after she became seriously ill from eating Peter Pan. The elder Marshall, 85, had kept a jar of the peanut butter on her nightstand to supplement her diet — and had unwittingly continued to eat it, even after she fell ill. "The very food she thought would improve her health had begun to ravage her body," Terri Marshall said.

Natural Selection Foods which packaged the tainted spinach says it’s now testing all greens that arrive at its facility, and Con-Agra says it’s spending up to $20 million to modify the plant where the bad peanut butter was produced

"Again we are truly sorry for any harm our peanut butter products caused," Con-Agra spokesman David Colo said.

The San Francisco Chronicle also covered the story – see HERE

PBS News Hour coverage – see HERE