Food Safety Attorney Calls for Increased Research to Make Salad Safe


SEATTLE, WA -- William Marler, attorney with the Seattle Law firm of Marler Clark, today called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to fund research on how to make salad safe to be consumed by the public.

On July 29, 2002, the FDA issued a nationwide warning to consumers not to consume Spokane Produce brand Romaine lettuce because it has been associated with the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses of 29 cheerleaders who attended a summer camp at Eastern Washington University. Several of the girls suffered severe illnesses that required life-saving medical treatment.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s website, since 1990 there have been at least 17 produce-related food-borne pathogen-related outbreaks, many directly related to the consumption of E. coli O157:H7 contaminated lettuce. “We can not tolerate the risks that lettuce and other fresh produce may have on the American public. The FDA must fund research at our land grant Universities to help eliminate these risks,” said Marler.

According to the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety Professor Joe Frank, washing lettuce can reduce the risk of contamination by a food-borne pathogen, but “there is no way to totally eliminate your risk of food-borne illness. But even, washing may not be enough. In the January 2002 edition of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, scientists learned that “lettuce that has been fertilized with manure or irrigated with water contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 can take the bacteria up through its root system and internalize it inside the leaves, resisting traditional external sanitizing methods.”

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Marler Clark has extensive experience representing victims of all food-borne illnesses. William Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement with Jack in the Box in 1993. In 1998, Marler Clark resolved the Odwalla Juice E. coli outbreak for the five families whose children developed HUS and were severely injured after consuming contaminated apple juice for $12 million. Marler Clark recently secured a verdict of $4.75 million against a School District in Eastern Washington. The partners at Marler Clark also speak frequently on a variety of food safety issues. Marler Clark is also proud to sponsor Web sites about E. coli and about E. coli litigation. The firm also sponsors the E. coli blog.

More about the Spokane Produce lettuce E. coli outbreak can be found in the Case News area of this site.