Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles leading up to the 20th annual Food Safety Summit. The event, from May 7-10 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in suburban Chicago, includes certification courses; a trade show with exhibitors from industry, academia and government; an extensive list of seminars and panel discussions; and a Town Hall meeting with top officials from the FDA, USDA and CDC. Visit www.foodsafetysummit.com for more details and to register.

A single food safety failure can have catastrophic consequences for both consumers and companies. When foodborne illness outbreaks occur, human lives can be lost or altered forever, and the companies involved may be forced to shutter their doors. 

All outbreaks cause serious illness, and many result in death. When outbreaks happen, lawsuits will invariably be filed throughout the United States by plaintiffs’ lawyers seeking compensation for their clients’ losses and damages. 

Sadly, in these lawsuits, experienced food safety lawyers and the parties they represent have learned that most of the outbreaks could have been avoided, and the consequences prevented.

In the closing session of this year’s Food Safety Summit, Drew Falkenstein and I are scheduled to showcase some of the most unforgettable, high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks and the litigation that followed. 

Summit attendees will get a view from the inside, hearing our insights about the mistakes leading up to food-related outbreaks. We also plan to discuss our observations about litigation, the arguments that have resonated with judges and juries, and the arguments that have failed.  

We’ll also describe the science now being used to link foodborne illnesses to food companies, and the steps those companies can take to avoid the mistakes of others. This session is a must for food safety managers, executives, and company owners.  Come learn about the pitfalls of the past, and leave prepared to prevent the next foodborne illness outbreak from happening.


 Shawn Stevens — Food Industry Counsel LLC 

Shawn Stevens

He is the founding member of FIC, and a food safety consultant. He works throughout the United States and abroad with food industry clients, including the world’s largest growers, processors, restaurant chains, distributors and grocers, helping them protect their brands by reducing food safety risks, complying with FDA and USDA food safety regulations, managing recalls, and defending high-profile food safety claims. He speaks regularly to audiences on a wide variety of emerging scientific, technological, regulatory and food safety legal trends.

Drew Falkenstein — Marler Clark LLP

Drew Falkenstein

He focuses on complex food injury cases. He has represented injured people against some of the biggest food companies in the world, including Dole, Kellogg’s, Darden Restaurants, Cargill, ConAgra, and Wal-Mart. He has handled cases in state and federal courts across the country. Drew has been an invited presenter at industry and regulatory conferences across the country. He speaks about the intersection of law and public health, and addresses companies on how to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.


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