January 2005

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported yesterday that a human rights group has looked closely at a major industry in one country and found safety conditions like those of a century ago, systematic disrespect for workers’ rights and widespread disregard of international labor standards. Yes, conditions for U.S. meatpacking workers are scandalous.
Human Rights Watch last week released a comprehensive study of the meatpacking and processing industry. It’s a damning report that shows the widespread effects on workers of constant corporate cost cutting, union busting and political irresponsibility.
Worse, as Human Rights Watch acknowledges, much of the picture was already well documented, both in official papers and previous studies. The Human Rights Watch report gives particular credit to the chilling portrayal of workplace conditions in meat plants provided a few years ago by Eric Schlosser in “Fast Food Nation.”
As the Human Rights Watch report, written by Lance Compa, and Schlosser both observe, conditions today sadly mirror those in Upton Sinclair’s classic work, “The Jungle.” Sinclair’s portrayal of meatpacking plants, which will reach its 100th anniversary next year, led to federal legislation that improved conditions for workers and made meat considerably safer for consumers.

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As Tim Hay of the San Mateo County Times reported today, a multinational food company and a Salinas vegetable farm have been ordered to pay an undisclosed amount to an elderly woman who was sickened in an outbreak of E. coli in a local retirement home, as well the son of a woman who died

As the The Salinas Californian reports, legal consequences of two food-borne illness outbreaks that sickened at least 63 people and killed one in 2003 have returned to the Salinas Valley, where state investigators say lettuce and spinach — contaminated at an unknown point before they were eaten — were grown.
Beginning with those infected with

January 15, 2005
“People’s perception of the disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) is
coloured by the fact that it’s not a very nice disease,” adding that
salmonella, botulism and E. coli are much more effective killers.” Stephen
Moore, chairman of bovine genomics, University of Alberta’s department of
“We’ve resolved our differences. Both

As the Herald Salinas Bureau reports, Marler Clark clients who were victims of an E. coli outbreak involving contaminated vegetables grown in Salinas Valley are settling their claims against the restaurants serving tainted produce in 2003.
But the legal cases continue while the restaurant owners attempt to pin the blame on Salinas Valley produce companies,

We as Americans have grown up believing that our food supply is the safest in the world. But the CDC estimates that over 300,000 people are hospitalized and over 5,000 die, just from eating food contaminated with a pathogen. In recent years, E. coli outbreaks have been linked to not just ground beef, but also

Canadian officials said Tuesday that they had found a new case of mad cow disease, a report made more worrisome because the cow was born after feed restrictions intended to prevent the spread of the disease were put in place in 1997.
It was the second infected cow from the western province of Alberta found

So far eight families have contacted Marler Clark, and one lawsuit has been filed, over the Wendy’s ground beef E. coli outbreak in Marion County.
One family was hit twice when the two sons, a 4-year-old and a 23-month-old, became sick from E. coli. The 4-year-old was released last week from Oregon Health Sciences University

Half Moon Bay fruit-juice maker Odwalla Inc. has reached a settlement — reportedly for $12 million to $15 million — with the families of five young victims of a 1996 food-poisoning outbreak caused by a tainted batch of the company’s apple juice.
The hefty settlement brings closer to an end a painful saga for the company and victims’ families, which began when Washington health authorities announced the outbreak at Halloween a year and a half ago. The company now has settled 17 lawsuits, with three remaining.
“It’s behind us now and we will move on,” said Terry Beverly of Seattle, a Microsoft engineer whose son, now 4, hovered near death after being stricken with an advanced stage of poisoning caused by a deadly microbe known as E. coli O157:H7.
“We’re very pleased to be able to fully compensate these children and to move forward with the families and with the lawyers to address the bigger issues of food-safety awareness,” said Chris Gallagher, a company official.

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