Marler Petitions USDA to Ban Salmonella Strains
Marler Clark

Marler Petitions USDA to Ban Salmonella Strains

USDA posts food-poisoning attorney's "rulemaking petition" for comment.

January 29, 2020

Foodborne Illness Attorney Bill Marler, who represented hundreds of victims in the Jack in the Box E. coli food poisoning case in the 1990s, and played a key role in getting USDA to outlaw the most virulent strains of the pathogen in meat, is now taking aim at Salmonella.

On January 19, Marler filed a petition with USDA — as he did regarding E. coli a decade ago — asking it to agree with his legal, scientific and moral arguments to ban dozens of Salmonella strains from meat.

In response, USDA stated that the request is being considered as a rulemaking petition under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(e)), USDA' s administrative regulations (7 CFR 1.28), and FSIS's regulations on petitions (9 CFR part 392). The petition “requesting that FSIS issue an interpretive rule to declare certain Salmonella serotypes to be per se adulterants in meat and poultry products” has been posted to the Federal Register where comments can be made and viewed.

As stated in the Marlerblog,

“USDA’s data shows that about 1 in every 10 chicken breasts, drumsticks or wings that consumers purchase is probably contaminated with salmonella, which largely comes from fecal matter getting on meat during slaughter.

“ ‘When I tell people that chicken manufacturers can knowingly and legally sell something that can kill you, they don’t believe me,’ Marler said in an interview. People are equally surprised, he said, to learn that the federal government ‘stamps meat USDA certified, all along knowing that it could be contaminated with cow or chicken’ feces.

“If the USDA approves the petition, the department would have far-reaching power to recall or seize meat for a variety of salmonella strains. It could also pull its inspectors from wayward meat plants, effectively shutting them down, a move that could cost big operations millions of dollars a day.

“The meat industry opposes banning salmonella, saying the technology needed to prevent and eliminate the contamination has not yet been developed. It also argues that meat prices would rise for consumers.”


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Read or comment on the petition at