The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
202.457.0034, ext. 137

Unique Food Safety Conference Tomorrow

Dr. David Kessler, William Marler Highlight Day-Long Conference


Tomorrow, November 20, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) and American
University Washington College of Law will sponsor a day-long conference
focusing on problems with the current food safety system in America, and how to improve it. The
conference, Empowering Employees to Protect
Food Integrity
, starts at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning (registration
begins at 8:45 a.m.).

Dr. David Kessler,
former FDA Commissioner and best-selling author, is a featured speaker. In
2007, Kessler flatly stated that, "Simply put, our food safety system is
broken." He will discuss steps to fix that system, including the
centrality of enacting new legislation providing strong whistleblower
protections for all food safety industry workers - both corporate and government
- so they will feel empowered to blow the whistle on unsafe foods. Kessler
has noted that without the insider guidance of whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand, a
former tobacco company executive, FDA would not have been able to make the case
that nicotine should be regulated as a drug.

The luncheon speaker is William Marler, one of the nation's most prominent food
safety/poisoning attorneys. Marler and his law firm, MarlerClark, have
represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose
contaminated products have caused serious injury and death.

"People doing their jobs well at every level of
the food production chain is critical to food safety," said Marler.
"It's just as critical that employees can speak out if they see
actions being taken that could jeopardize the safety of the food product being
made, and consequently the safety of the consumers who might purchase it. Food
workers are our first defense, and I applaud GAP for highlighting the
importance of their contributions."

This symposium acknowledges the role of employees as a
first line of defense against food adulteration. Expert panelists will discuss
food integrity issues, as well as new and pending laws (including whistleblower
protections). Specifically, panelists will address legal and legislative
reforms, immigrant rights, humane handling, corporate farming, and the role of
labor in food safety.

When: November 20, 2009

Where: American University, Washington
College of Law

4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Room 603

Washington, D.C. 20016

Time: 8:45 a.m. - Continental Breakfast
and Registration

9:30 a.m. -
Conference Begins

Cost: Free
here to register for the event

Panel & Interview Schedule

  • Panel 1: A Case Study of the PCA Salmonella Outbreak(10:00
    : This panel will review the events leading up to
    the PCA recall, and what measures need to be implemented to prevent a
    similar event from occurring. Panelists will explore the interplay between
    both federal and state food safety agencies and why these agencies were
    unable to prevent and promptly identify the foodborne pathogen that
    sickened and killed unsuspecting consumers. PCA panelists will discuss
    the local public health response to the outbreak, insufficient employee
    protections, and failures regarding interoperability of food safety
  • Panel 2: Lessons Learned from the Largest Meat Recall in History(11:15
    : This
    panel will discuss the conditions that led to the nation's largest
    beef recall in history. Panelists will review tactics that can be
    employed to prevent similar food safety disasters, discuss the failings
    and inadequate enforcement of public health and USDA regulations, and detail
    what steps are necessary to improve the existing system.
  • Luncheon Address: William Marler (1:15 p.m.): An accomplished personal injury
    lawyer and national expert in foodborne illness litigation, William Marler
    is a major force in food safety policy in the United States and
    abroad. He and his partners at Marler Clark, a Seattle-based law firm
    specializing in food poisoning, have represented thousands of individuals
    in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused
    serious injury and death. His advocacy for better food regulation has
    led to invitations to address local, national, and international
    gatherings on food safety, as well as congressional testimony.
  • Panel 3:Food Safety and Whistleblowing(2:00
    panel includes presentations by those working in food production, as well
    as those fighting for greater worker protections. Panelists will share
    anecdotes, case studies, successes, failures and forecasts for progress in
    the realm of food integrity. The implications of food safety laws, with a special
    emphasis on the role of new food technologies vs. hands-on safety
    inspection, will be covered.
  • A Conversation with Dr. David Kessler(3:15 p.m.): GAP Executive Director Mark Cohen will interview former FDA
    Commissioner and best selling author Dr. David Kessler, covering a broad
    array of topics ranging from food integrity and safety to food
    wholesomeness, the public health implications of overeating, and the
    centrality of whistleblower protections to strengthen the food safety net.
    This interview will be recorded live for GAP's television program, Whistle Where You Work, and telecast
    on the Free Speech TV channel via the DISH satellite network, over 60
    cable channels nationwide, and in the United Kingdom.

All questions should be directed to GAP Communications Director Dylan Blaylock at, or

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.