Illinois Environmental Health Association (2021)

In this presentation, Bill Marler outlined why food production is risky business. He named competitive markets, stockholder pressures, lack of clear reward for practicing food safety, brand awareness and potential litigation as factors considered by food makers.

In addition, he cited cases that point to our food supply becoming more and more of a world market with food makers receiving food from overseas. Foodborne illness is prevalent, with over 48 million cases annually, victims often require hospitalization and many die. Bill emphasized the importance of understanding the pathway of foodborne illness and of the investigation after an outbreak occurs. With the technology and systems in place, we are now able to efficiently conduct traceback investigations which result in product recalls and most likely save lives.

Bill Marler also outlined the criteria for strict product liability, the need to identify the manufacturer and the role litigation plays by providing incentive to serve safe food to consumers. He provided examples from real cases including Jack in the Box and Odwalla Juice in which young chlildren contracted E. coli and had long term medical consequences. And lastly, he talked about the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella outbreak, and how it became a criminal investigation, with 76 counts of federal indictment and the company owners serving jail time.