Bill Marler: 25 Years of Food Safety
Food Safety Magazine | Food Safety Matters Podcast Ep. 25 | May 8, 2018
Bill Marler is the most prominent foodborne illness lawyer in America, and a major force in food policy in the U.S. and around the world. Bill’s firm—Marler Clark: The Food Safety Law Firm—has represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused life-altering injuries and even death.
Bill began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the historic Jack in the Box Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak, in her landmark $15.6 million settlement with the fast food company. For the last 25 years, Bill has represented victims of nearly every large foodborne illness outbreak in the U.S. He has filed lawsuits and class actions against Cargill, Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, Chipotle, ConAgra, Dole, Excel, Golden Corral, KFC, McDonald’s, Odwalla, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Sizzler, Supervalu, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. Through his work, he has secured over $650 million for victims of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and other foodborne illnesses.
Bill Marler’s advocacy for a safer food supply includes petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to better regulate pathogenic E. coli, working with nonprofit food safety and foodborne illness victims’ organizations, and helping spur the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act. His work has led to invitations to address local, national, and international gatherings on food safety, including testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the British House of Lords.
Bill travels widely and frequently to speak to law schools, food industry groups, fair associations, and public health groups about the litigation of claims resulting from outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and the issues surrounding it. He gives frequent donations to industry groups for the promotion of improved food safety and has established numerous collegiate science scholarships across the nation.
He is a frequent writer on topics related to foodborne illness. Among other accolades, Bill was awarded the NSF Food Safety Leadership Award for Education in 2010.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Bill Marler about:
- The circumstances under which he met the late Dave Theno
- The Jack in the Box case and how it propelled his career
- The current listeriosis outbreak in South Africa, and how it compares to the Jack in the Box case 25 years ago
- Why foodborne illness cases involving hamburger and Escherichia coli are no longer a huge problem
- How the Odwalla apple juice outbreak could have been avoided
- Whether or not Salmonella should be officially declared an adulterant
- The responsibility of food safety: consumer vs. food industry
- His thoughts on the ongoing Peanut Corporation of America case and whether or not Stewart Parnell’s attempts at a new trial are valid
- FSMA, and how the new regulations can be improved
- Blockchain, whole-genome sequencing, and other technologies that are changing the food safety for the better
- His newfound interest in public health as it relates to food safety