Food safety criminals: throw them in jail or ship them off to the colonies

"Right now you can sicken and kill your customers, and [companies] have no consequences other than embarrassment in the marketplace."

That’s what I told My Health News Daily. Jail time may help – it’s that embarrassment thing – but, "The biggest thing that can be done is that anyone producing or selling food needs to adopt a culture of food safety that puts not making your customers sick as your first priority. If your customers are dead or dying, it’s not easy to make money.

"It’s not up to government to produce safe food. It’s up to producers to know how to produce safe food," Powell said.

Fifteen years ago this month, an outbreak of E. coli from unpasteurized apple juice sickened 60 to 70 people, killed a 16-month-old girl from Denver and caused 14 children to develop a serious kidney condition that can require lifelong dialysis treatments.

The federal case brought against juice maker Odwalla resulted in the first criminal conviction for foodborne illness, although no one in the company served time in jail. The company was fined $1.5 million for distributing contaminated juice — the largest fine ever issued in the United States for food poisoning.

James Dickson, a food safety expert and professor at Iowa State University said, "Food isn’t sterile. The only way you would ever get away from foodborne disease outbreaks is if you refused to allow the sale of any raw product in the marketplace.”

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time