Minneapolis, Minnesota (PRWEB) July 20, 2009
"America is on the verge of fundamentally changing the way we protect our food supply, and President Obama deserves credit for leading the charge,'' said Fred Pritzker, a nationally recognized food safety lawyer whose clients include the families of three Midwest women who died in the recent peanut product Salmonella outbreak.
Pritzker, founder and president of PritzkerOlsen, P.A., is urging Congress to accelerate its efforts to pass a food safety bill this year to build on the reforms started by the White House. But he warns that all the laws and guidelines issued by the government won't prevent future outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella and Listeria if companies ignore the regulations, scoff at food safety science, fail to properly train workers and chronically defer investments in plants and equipment to keep them clean and safe.
"That's why there also needs to be greater civil penalties for repeat and mass offenders,'' said Pritzker, whose Minneapolis-based firm also represents victims of the current Nestle Toll House cookie dough E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
Pritzker said the tort system is already a meaningful deterrent against large-scale food poisoning, but he said changes must be made to allow victims easier access to punitive damages and the award of attorney fees in cases involving repeat or mass offenders.
"In all of this change for better food safety, what are we doing for victims?'' Pritzker said. "Let's not forget the victims.''
As a nationally recognized legal advocate for victims of food poisoning, Pritzker represents the family of the late Shirley Mae Almer, who was a cancer survivor, vivacious businesswoman and loving grandmother when she died Dec. 21, 2008, of a Salmonella infection she contracted from eating peanut butter that was contaminated by the manufacturer.
Mrs. Almer's son, Jeffrey Almer, was among those who testified this February before a Congressional panel in Washington, D.C., about the human cost of food poisoning.
"It's imperative that Americans trust their health is not compromised by the food on their plate,'' Mr. Almer said.
One month after the hearing, President Obama created the Food Safety Working Group to advise his administration on how to upgrade the food safety system for the 21st century. On July 7, the group recommended a new, public health-focused approach to food safety based on three core principles: prioritizing prevention; strengthening inspection and enforcement; and improving response and trace-backs. Regulatory changes have already taken place to help accomplish some of the goals.
In Congress, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has since created and marked up the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. Pritzker said the bill needs to be brought to the House Floor for a vote as soon as possible and the Senate also needs to follow through on promised food safety reform.
"The combined effort should include new measures for victims and their families to seek redress for the often life-long injuries they suffer from deadly pathogens in food," Pritzker said. "Only then will we start filling the unacceptable gaps we have in food safety.''
PritzkerOlsen law firm is involved in practically all major outbreaks of foodborne illness and has collected tens of millions of dollars for victims. To contact firm president Fred Pritzker, please call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free). For more food safety information, please see http://pritzkerlaw.com or http://foodpoisoning.pritzkerlaw.com. PritzkerOlsen, a national food safety litigation firm, has offices at Plaza VII, Suite 2950, 45 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55402.