| Opinion |

Taco Bell Salmonella Alert

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According to the Chinese zodiac, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, but it should be renamed the "Year of the Salmon--ella outbreak and consequent civil suits."

Too long?

Two lawsuits due to salmonella poisoning have been filed against Taco Bell this year. The second lawsuit, also filed by Marler Clark, the Food Safety Law firm, comes hot on the heels of a salmonella outbreak in Oklahoma that left a child hospitalized.

According to the Food Poison Journal (I know, I didn't know such a thing existed either), "The lawsuit is being filed while another nationwide Salmonella outbreak is still raging...the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a total of 141 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella... The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (6), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (6), Illinois (13), Louisiana (3), Maryland (14), Massachusetts (9), Mississippi (2), Missouri (4), New Jersey (8), New York (28), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (4), Virginia (8), and Wisconsin (14)."

If a company is guilty of using contaminated food products that make customers ill, it should be responsible for damages stemming from hospital bills and the like. But it seems predatory/ambulance chase-y for this firm to be at the forefront of multiple lawsuits.

When you Google search the firm's name, the official website comes up with the words, "Suffered from food poisoning? The food poisoning lawyers at Marler Clark have the most extensive experience representing victims of food poisoning of any law ..."

What the heck is a "food poisoning lawyer?" They should get a professional to write their web copy -- just saying. The term food poisoning lawyer implies that the attorneys at Marler Clark go around poisoning food. Hmmmm.... Genius!

And on the website, the firm's tagline is "The nation's foremost law firm with a practice dedicated to representing victims of food poisoning."

I guess that beats slip and fall accidents.

Although the succubus-like tactics of Marler Clark leave a bad taste in my mouth, companies should be more careful about what they're putting on the market.

Is this a Fight Club case? Does the cost of testing each incoming order of food outweigh the cost of settling civil lawsuits?

Either way, the FDA should get in on this. We've had several E. coli and salmonella outbreaks during the past several years and there has to be some way of monitoring foods to ensure that contaminated items are not being served to the public.

Maybe the testing should be done before the food leaves the farm and then again upon arrival at its destination.

In the same article, Marler is quoted as saying, "Salmonella is a growing concern of mine... It sickens forty thousand and kills four hundred annually. Couple that with the surge of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella and I'd like to see food companies doing more to publicly address the issue."

Address? How about prevent? Guess there's no money for non-food poisoning lawyers.

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