Leading foodborne illness litigators, industry counsel, scientists, and public health officials met in Chicago this week for the American Conference Institute’s (ACI’s) 3rd National Forum on Foodborne Illness Litigation.

The meeting covered a wide variety of topics–from emerging trends in food safety litigation to crisis management, to understanding the interplay between federal and state food safety regulations.

Participants in all sectors viewed the event as a valuable forum for discussing the nation’s most pressing foodborne illness issues.

“Co-chairs Bill [Marler] and Al [Maxwell] presented and it was a wonderful conference, it was truly a multidisciplinary event,” said Brad Sullivan, managing attorney of Lombardo & Gilles, a firm in Salinas, CA that represents growers, shippers, and processors in the leafy green industry. 

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“We heard from industry, government, as well as both plaintiff and defense attorneys. There was a wide variety of opinions presented, which really fosters great perspective and cooperation in the food safety sector,” added Sullivan.

The conference had a strong presence from industry leaders and associations, including Chiquita, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Hormel, the National Meat Association, Sara Lee, and Supervalu.

Kendra Clark, corporate counsel for Chiquita, who presented on managing foodborne illness litigation, said the conference “served as an excellent opportunity to hear from and better understand timely issues facing the food industry from multiple perspectives.”

“Having defended foodborne illness claims for nearly a decade, I know there are few exceptional attorneys that do this work. To ACI’s credit, the conference provided, with the flare of a class reunion, an unparalleled opportunity to meet old colleagues and share strategy with the ‘top guns’ in the food safety business,” remarked Shawn Stevens, partner at Gass Weber Mullins, which represents Cargill, Inc. in foodborne illness litigation.

The Co-chairs of the conference, two of the leading food safety attorneys in the country, Bill Marler of Marler Clark and Alan Maxwell of Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial, were pleased with the meeting as well. 

“I thought the 3rd ACI Conference was one of the best.  I thought the speakers, especially those from [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and U.S. Food and Drug Administration] added a level of technical detail that you seldom get at legal conferences,” said Marler.

Maxwell agrees, “This year’s conference confirms that ACI is leading food safety conferences. I am looking forward to inviting even more leaders from the scientific community to the forum next year.” 

Pictured above: Arthur P. Liang, MD, MPH, Director of Food Safety Initiative Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), answers a question about CDC response to foodborne illness outbreaks.