Sometime in the next few months Jeff Benedict’s new publisher is likely to release a new version of the Poisoned book that is now on its third printing (one hardback and two paperback versions). Here is the cover and the introduction for the past version and an added update.
October 15, 2022
Just over 20 years after Bill penned an Op-ed for the Denver Post in which he challenged the USDA/FSIS and the Beef Industry to “Put me out of Business,” E. coli cases linked to ground beef have nearly, but not completely, disappeared. As Bill tells it, “I could count on a significant E. coli outbreak and recall occurring like clockwork nearly every Spring or Summer. When 2003 came, there were no outbreaks, and other than the tragic uptick in 2007 that impacted Stephanie Smith, E. coli cases linked to ground beef are no longer a part of the work we do anymore. The industry to its credit did its job and met my challenge.”
Since the 2018 E. coli outbreak linked to Romaine lettuce from Yuma, E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and hepatitis A outbreaks linked fresh fruits and vegetables now take up the bulk of Bill’s attention. Romaine lettuce E. coli outbreaks have now replaced ground beef as the staple of the Marler Clark practice.
In 2019 Bill launched a petition to ban Salmonella from chicken like E. colis were banned from ground beef. Thus far the USDA/FSIS has resisted, but it has banned Salmonella from certain chicken products. As Bill says, “a win is a win, even if a small one.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic may have slowed Bill’s world-wide travel schedule, but it barely impacted reported foodborne outbreaks and the litigation that surrounds them. Salmonella-tainted onions in 2020 and 2021 sickened thousands in the United States and Canada. Salmonella-laced ground turkey sickened dozens, organic yogurt nearly caused the death of three children with E. coli-mediated HUS in 2021. Hepatitis A outbreaks linked to ill workers in multiple restaurants (Bill has for decades urged the restaurant industry to offer hepatitis A vaccines to employees) in New Jersey and Virginia sickened nearly 100, causing five deaths and three liver transplants. In 2022, a Salmonella outbreak hit peanut butter, again, a Listeria in ice cream raising its deadly head, and another E. coli outbreak linked to Wendy’s and lettuce.
2022 has also put social media and “influencers” from Instagram and TikTok on the same footing as CDC epidemiologists. Public health officials seemed completely oblivious to hundreds of people suffering with acute liver failure after consuming an organic, vegan home-delivered food produced by a company backed by the power of Serena Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow. Bill now represents 361 of the customers in a Federal Court lawsuit that stretches from New York City to the mountains of Peru.
The pandemic years has turned Bill into nearly a “virtual” lawyer. Instead of crisscrossing the world to appear in Court or to give a speech on “why it is a bad idea to poison your customers,” Bill will login to his custom-built studio from his Bainbridge Island satellite office. The pandemic has also ushered in other changes at Marler Clark, with three of the four founding partners retiring. Bruce Clark, Denis Stearns and Andy Weisbecker have opted for a bit slower pace out of Bill’s wake.
Bill when asked when he might retire as well, quickly responds, “I still have much too do. I still love helping people and trying to do my part to make sure there are fewer Bri’s in the future than in the past or the present.”