A call for country of origin labeling on fruits and vegetables


Seattle, WA – A recent death and dozens of reports of illness in the Western United States that have been linked to Salmonella-contaminated cantaloupe could have been avoided if such imported fresh fruits were simply labeled to indicate their country of origin.

“People have a right to know, especially in the early season, that the cantaloupes they’re buying at their local markets were likely just picked and shipped from the fields in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or Nicaragua,” stated food safety advocate, Bill Marler. “It is no wonder people are getting sick. Health and safety is taking a back seat to free trade.”

Marler, whose Seattle, Washington law firm Marler Clark has represented thousands victims of foodborne illness since the 1993 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Jack in the Box, expressed little surprise that the imported fruit is the most likely culprit in this latest outbreak of Salmonella in the Western United States.

“Relaxed barriers to imported food may be great for business, but we must remember that this same system is also shipping fresh fruits and vegetables around the globe that may be contaminated with deadly pathogens, like Salmonella,” Marler added. “If consumers are made aware that their food is coming from countries with third world health and safety concerns, they are more likely to clean and prepare food items properly.”

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Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of various foodborne illnesses. Managing partner William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993 after she was infected with E coli. O157:H7 during that highly publicized outbreak. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the claims of five families for $12 million after their children were infected by drinking Odwalla apple juice contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.

Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in actions related to E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and hepatitis outbreaks in several states. Most recently, Marler Clark secured a $4.75 million jury verdict against the Finley School District in Eastern Washington after several children were infected with E. coli O157:H7 from contaminated beef served to them in a school lunch. This was the first E. coli case in the county to go to the jury.