Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mitigating Liability

I had the pleasure to meet Kenneth Odza last week at the “Who’s Minding the Store?” seminar at Seattle University. Mr. Odza’s specialty is food liability defense law. He publishes a useful blog on this subject, the Food Liability Law Blog. You can subscribe via RSS feeder or email.

A recent blog entry talked about how meat grinding logs can mitigate supermarket liability. In one case, an salmonellosis outbreak was tied to ground beef from a supermarket chain. The meat producer could not be identified largely because the supermarket chain did not keep clear grinding logs. “For no reason other than poor record keeping, the supermarket chain, not the meat producer, bore responsibility for the outbreak (and any resulting liability). . . . Meat grinding logs can be vital tools in defending against and mitigating liability claims attributed to ground beef (especially those related to E. coli, BSE, Salmonella, etc.).”

To Mr. Odza’s advice, I would also add that keeping cooking temperature logs can similarly be vital. I once cleared a grocery store of a salmonellosis case because it had clear cooking temperature logs. Logs also can and should be an important tool for management to ensure that delegated tasks are be carried out by employees.

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