Milwaukee (BW) --- The current E. coli outbreak in the Milwaukee area is a good time for people to learn how to dine out defensively, says Bill Marler, a nationally recognized food safety expert and Seattle attorney.
"Sizzler closing its outlets in the Milwaukee area does not mean you are safe," says Marler, a Seattle attorney who represents victims of food borne illness throughout the United States. "Until health authorities identify and eliminate the actual source of the E. coli making people in Milwaukee sick, you are at risk, especially when dining out."
Marler, who represented the most severely injured victims from the largest and most deadly E. coli outbreak in U.S. history in 1993, has developed ten tips for dining out more safely. They are:
Research the restaurant before you go. Check with the local Health Department to see if the restaurant you are interested in has a good safety record. Marler says avoid restaurants with multiple closures for health concerns.Ask the restaurant for its own food safety policies or plan. Quality restaurants will gladly provide you with their food safety policies and plan, especially if you call the manager during non-peak times during the day.Do not accept menu mistakes. Mistakes can be signs there is a danger of food borne illness. Marler says if restaurants succeeded in keeping "hot things hot" and "cold things cold," there would be far fewer incidents of food-borne illness.Ask questions, especially about where the restaurant gets meat, poultry and fresh fruits and vegetables. Marler says consumers have the right to know if a restaurant is getting meat and poultry from vendors that test for bacterial infections; and then holds the shipment until results of the tests are known.Leave small children at home. Food-borne illnesses can be deadly for small children. Marler, the father of three daughters under age 10, says avoid dining out with children whenever possible.Be extra careful when dining out with the elderly, or persons with immune deficiencies. Marler says next to small children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to food-borne illness.Avoid restaurants that invite "cross contamination." Marler says some restaurants are designed to spread disease. Self-serve cafeteria-style outlets where its clear most people have not washed their hands and are touching everything being offered, and the so-called "salad and steak" bars, especially trouble him.Be extra careful during "unsolved" outbreaks. Until health officials have the facts, don't assume anything about an outbreak in progress. Sometimes it is not the restaurant that's first closed down, but some product others are using that is really responsible for the spread of food-borne illness.Educate yourself about food-borne illness. Marler says there is lot of information available in local libraries or on the web. For E. coli, he invites Milwaukee residents to visit www.about-ecoli.com
- Before ordering anything, wash your own hands. If a restaurant's wash rooms are not clean with readily available hot water and liquid soap, Marler says don't eat there.
Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of food-borne illness. Mr. Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box. He also secured compensation totaling $30 million for other victims from the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. In May 1998, Marler Clark settled the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children were severely injured after consuming Odwalla apple juice. Marler Clark is currently lead counsel in class actions stemming from several Salmonella, Shigella, and Hepatitis outbreaks in Washington, California and Arizona. Marler Clark has litigated on behalf of children against KFC, McDonalds, Hardees, Carl's Jr. and Costco. Marler Clark is presently representing children in an E. coli outbreak stemming from contaminated beef served in a school lunch, and others, including an Atlanta, Georgia E. coli outbreak involving contaminated swimming pool water. Mr. Marler can be reached at 206-346-1888 or at firstname.lastname@example.org