Bill Marler, the country’s leading food safety lawyer, has made a name for himself by forcing major food companies to take responsibility for their involvement in foodborne illnesses that threaten the health of the American public.
Among his most notable cases, Marler has represented plaintiffs in the E. coli outbreak linked to Jack in the Box, and the devastating 2009 salmonella outbreak from the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America, which sickened 714 people and killed nine. In fact, Marler has been involved in litigations on behalf of victims of nearly every major U.S. foodborne illness outbreak in the last 20 years — so it’s worth noting which foods Marler just won’t touch.
In an interview with Bottom Line Health, Marler named the six food groups that have done plenty to feed his law practice, but not the lawyer himself. For starters, raw milk and packaged juices are off the table because there have been 148 outbreaks linked to raw milk between 1998 and 2011 — a huge number given how relatively uncommon raw milk is compared to pasteurized milk — and an unpasteurized Odwalla juice was one of his first cases as a food safety lawyer.
Marler also avoids raw sprouts (cooked sprouts are fine, but “there have been too many outbreaks to not pay attention to the risk of sprout contamination”), meat that isn’t well-done, prewashed or precut fruits and vegetables (“I avoid these like the plague”), raw or undercooked eggs (some major salmonella outbreaks have been linked to eggs, and old habits die hard), and raw shellfish, especially oysters (“If there’s bacteria in the water it’ll get into their system, and if you eat it you could have trouble.”)