A few months ago I received this email:

Dear Mr. Marler,

After speaking with __________, _________ would much prefer to invite you to be a speaker at our next annual meeting of the _________, to be held on _________, 2015 rather than inviting you to one of our smaller roundtable meetings. The _________ annual meeting & suppliers expo generally attracts in excess of 200 participants, a great majority of whom are CEOs of small food processing facilities or affiliated service providers.

I think that our audience would LOVE to hear you give a presentation such as “Food Safety Challenges for Small Businesses – How NOT to have Bill Marler representing your sickened/injured customers”. I often talk to this audience about food safety and the regulations regarding food safety, but it would have a much greater impact, for them to hear about some of the possible repercussions of failing to adhere to food safety preventive measures from YOU.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

I was therefore a bit surprised when I received this email on the way home from giving another speech on “Why it is a bad idea to poison your customers”:

This is really embarrassing, but several members of the __________ Board were strongly opposed to having Mr. Marler speak at the 2015 Annual Conference.

I would have loved to have him here, personally, because from the academic perspective I think there is great value in learning more about both sides of any situation. Unfortunately, most of the Board members are company owners or CEOs of food production facilities who are very enthusiastic for me to bring-in speakers who might can help them with improving food safety in their processing plants, but do not feel it is appropriate for me to bring-in someone who might one day be coming after them for something that they were not even aware was taking place.

I hope that Mr. Marler can understand this situation, and why I have to retract the invitation.

Over that last two decades I have done hundreds of talks in front of every group imaginable – from colleges, to public health entities, to industry groups – small and large – all for free.  I have done these talks in Australia, China, New Zealand, Canada, England, South Africa, Dubai and more than 30 US states.  Some have been keynote speeches in front of thousands and some were sitting across the table with Boards of Directors.

I have tried to do more than sue companies to take responsibility for the customers they sickened or killed.  I have tried to convince them that avoiding problems in the first place is a much better course.

(I removed identifiers to not embarrass the individuals who invited me)