Phil Brasher, dean of food and agriculture reporters, gave our new foodborne illness outbreak database a nice “shout-out:”

The nation’s top private food regulators, otherwise known as the Marler Clark law firm out of Seattle, are putting together a database for tracking food-borne illness. That’s something you might think the government would do, but it hasn’t. Check it out the database at

Search on “Iowa” and “E. coli O157:H7,” the potentially fatal pathogen associated with ground beef, and you’ll find three outbreaks that have affected involved Iowa since 2006, including two last year.

Bill Marler, one of the nation’s top plaintiff’s attorneys for victims of food poisoning, is soliciting comments on the project. (I refer to Marler as a “regulator” because of the government’s and industry’s reliance on the tort system to hold companies accountable.)

The data are coming from state and local health departments as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various journals that document outbreaks, including the CDC’s.

I was just in Iowa last week taking a quick tour of one of their many food production facilities.  Hopefully, none will be added to my database.