We had our last lecture in Food Safety today, and it was a good one. Seattle attorney Bill Marler, who entered the food safety fray back in 1998-99 when he represented victims in the Jack in the Box E. coli contamination outbreak, spoke to us about, well, food safety. He’s currently representing a few dozen victims (or their families) in last year’s Listeria outbreak from cantaloupe grown and processed by Jensen Farms in southeastern Colorado.
I just finished writing a paper about this outbreak, and it’s really tragic, because it was really preventable. Jensen Farms was using corroded washing-and-drying equipment that wasn’t even cleanable in parts (according to FDA investigators). The equipment wasn’t even meant to be used for cantaloupe…it was built for potatoes! Plus there was standing water in the packing shed, and they didn’t use any disinfectant solutions, etcetera, etcetera.
If you’re itching to know more, you’ll find it on the CDC’s listeria cantaloupe pages. If you have an interest in food safety and related outbreaks, I recommend Bill Marler’s blog and the website he publishes, Food Safety News. On a lighter note, I’m going to share with you a little John Stewart goodness that Mr. Marler shared with us at the close of his lecture (yes, it is food safety related).