Food Safety Advocate William Marler Welcomes End of Factory Farms

A report released by the influential Pew Commission yesterday on Industrial Farm Animal Production could result in chickens and cows receiving more humane treatment. Pew’s recommendations, based on a two-year study, would eliminate practices standard on “factory farms”. In California, a pending anti-cruelty initiative on the ballot would address the same abuses.

“This push by the Pew Commission and the grassroots activism in California signal the beginning of the end of ‘factory farming,’” said attorney William Marler, who frequently testifies in Washington D.C. on farm-to-plate food-safety issues. “Abuse leads to unhealthy animals, which become natural breeding grounds for E. coli and other food-borne diseases.”

In the past year there has been an epidemic of E. coli outbreaks in beef and dairy products. Researchers and food-safety experts such as Marler target substandard feeding, housing and transportation of cows as one possible cause of a contaminated food supply chain. This is a drastic change from just a few years ago, when the US meat supply was considered among the safest in the world.

A systems-based approach was developed by the federal government after the fatal Jack-in-the-Box E-Coli outbreak in the early 1990s to standardize meat processing and inspection, and put in place a rapid recall system. The record number and volume of recent meat recalls have put that system under scrutiny. Marler, a partner at the Marler Clark Law Firm in Seattle, Washington, interprets the breakdown in safety as a breakdown in the systems-approach. “Government, business, and advocacy groups together must identify the weak links and fix them,” he advises. “Among the weakest of those links has been how farm animals are cared for, and I hope the recommendations in this report are followed to eliminate the practice of ‘factory farming’”.