Fifteen years ago this week, Seattle lawyer Bill Marler and
Kansas State University professor Douglas Powell were drawn into the
food safety arena when the Washington Department of Health announced
that Jack in the Box restaurants were the source of a multi-state
outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Now, the two are teaming up to
further promote awareness of food safety.
Marler, who has represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other
foodborne illness outbreaks since representing more than 100 victims of
the Jack in the Box outbreak, has pledged to donate $25,000 to Powell’s
group, the International Food Safety Network — iFSN — at Kansas State
University. The group, which was formed in 1993 when Powell began
researching the impact and influence of food safety information on
farmers, processors, retailers, consumers and regulators, produces
several electronic mailing lists to disseminate food safety information
across the globe. In addition, Marler has pledged to match all other
donations made to iFSN in 2008, up to $25,000.
In thanking Marler for the donation, Powell said,
"All money donated to iFSN will be used to fund students in developing and carrying out a
variety of projects. These will focus on the use of new media and new
messages to compel individuals from farm-to-fork to take steps to
reduce the incidence of foodborne illness.
"Bill Marler is an outstanding advocate for food safety and understands
that microbiologically safe food just doesn’t happen," said Powell.
"Any lawyer can talk the talk. Bill walks the talk."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76
million Americans get sick and 5,000 die each and every year after
consuming contaminated food and water. The Jack in the Box outbreak in
the Pacific Northwest, which killed four and sickened over 600, was the
tipping point for American public awareness of the risks posed by
dangerous microorganisms in food.