December 2006

I just saw this headline and excerpt from a Business Wire Press Release:

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Taco Bell President Greg Creed Meet for Lunch and Tour of Philadelphia Taco Bell
(Business Wire)-December 27, 2006

As a further demonstration that its food is completely safe to eat, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will visit a

According to a Press Release from Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, the company last week received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to distribute its E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine to Canadian veterinarians under a Permit to Release Veterinary Biologics as specified in the Canadian Health of Animal Regulations. This authorization equates to what is referred to as a “conditional license” in the U.S. This is the first vaccine technology for control of E. coli O157:H7 to be authorized for field use by a regulator globally. The vaccine is indicated for the reduction of shedding of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in cattle.

Recent outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 affecting spinach and other produce in North America have highlighted the fact that this is an increasingly serious human health threat that goes beyond meat (the first major foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 occurred in 1982 and was associated with ground beef). Human exposure to E. coli O157:H7 is being increasingly associated with contaminated fruit, vegetables, unpasteurized milk and fruit juice, potable and recreational water, and from direct contact with animals at fairs and petting zoos

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A story that Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Bailey have been working on over the past months on the DOLE spinach outbreak of last September.  The report is the most comprehensive look at the outbreak from farm to fork – then to hospital and courtroom.  They do a great job of highlightening, not only the process of manufacturing spinach, but also the impact on cunsumers, specifically, our clients the Brotts:

“With medical expenses reaching $150,000, Brott signed on with Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who is handling nearly 100 claims related to the outbreak.”

At least nine outbreaks of illness associated with E. coli bacteria in past 10 years are traced to lettuce and spinach grown in state
By Ken McLaughlin and Brandon Bailey

In the same article with same writers, the Mercury News had a different headline:


As the mid-July sun bore down on California’s Central Coast, automatic planters dropped millions of spinach seeds in a shimmering valley, where vegetable fields sit next to cattle pastures and a drowsy creek.

Five weeks later and 2,000 miles away, a cosmetics distributor in suburban Milwaukee was enjoying a crisp green salad, her favorite lunch during the hot and muggy days of a Midwestern summer.

That health-conscious meal nearly killed her.

The story of how spinach put Lisa Brott in the hospital traces a complex journey from field to table that reveals the failure of the nation’s produce industry to devise a reliable system for keeping one of its most popular products safe.

In the past decade, lettuce and spinach grown in California’s Central Coast region have caused at least nine outbreaks of illness associated with E. coli bacteria. Today, fresh produce outpaces even meat as a source of food-borne illness. The beef industry tightened its safety practices after Jack in the Box burgers contaminated with E. coli killed four children in 1993. But with vegetables, regulators and growers are still catching up.

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You have to love the creativity of counsel for Dole and Natural Selection Foods (NSF) in answering the complaint of a little boy frm Utah poisoned (one of at least 204 in twenty-six states – there were four deaths) by spinach NSF produced for Dole.  I have picked out some of the more absurd defenses

Taco John’s – we have filed two suits in Federal Court in Iowa against Taco John’s.  We have been contacted by 10 other Minnesota and Iowa residents and we are investigating those claims.  Interestingly, at first Taco John’s seemed to deny that its restaurant in Waterloo, Iowa was implicated, but Fred Minnick’s article today seems