For Immediate Release
Amanda Hitt, Food Integrity Campaign Director
202.457.0034, ext. 159
Groundbreaking Conference Next Friday Analyzes Revolutionary Food Whistleblower Protections
Law Brings a New Age of Consumer Protection; Noted Whistleblowers, Food Industry Critics and Watchdogs to Participate
WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is excited to announce its upcoming conference, Employee Rights and the Food Safety Modernization Act,
which will analyze the far-reaching implications of new whistleblower
protections for food industry workers, and the law's overall impact on
food safety. Launched by GAP's Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) and
co-hosted with the American University Washington College of Law (WCL),
this all-day seminar will be held in Washington, D.C. on February 11 at
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law by President
Obama in early January, establishes the first-ever private sector
whistleblower protections enacted specifically for the food industry. By
providing food industry whistleblowers with the necessary rights to
safely speak out about violations involved with food processing,
distribution, labeling, importation, and many more aspects of the food
chain, these protections will help make America's food safer for
consumers -- stopping outbreaks before they start.
"This is a sea change for the food industry," stated GAP Food Integrity
Campaign director Amanda Hitt. "The new law provides monumental
reforms, and we're going to spotlight how the whistleblower provision is
a huge step for private sector employees and its ability to protect
consumers. Giving industry workers a safe channel to report bad
practices is paramount to safeguarding public health."
conference features high-profile food industry whistleblowers and
prominent critics of food industry practices. Participants include:
- Keynote speaker Bill Marler, noted national expert in foodborne illness litigation, who has represented countless victims of major outbreaks.
- Kit Foshee,
former Corporate Quality Assurance Manager at the nation's leading
producer of lean boneless beef, Beef Products, Inc (BPI). Foshee was
fired for refusing to participate in his company's knowing
misrepresentation of microbial data to the USDA and FDA, and false
claims made to customers about product safety. Foshee proved that BPI
was knowingly overstating the safety benefits regarding its ammonia-beef
treatment process. BPI meat is included in 80 percent of the hamburgers
consumed in the United States, including at fast-food restaurants and
the national school lunch program.
- Former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) assistant plant manager Kenneth Kendrick repeatedly
reported to the Texas Department of Health incidences of rat
infestation at his plant, and animal droppings falling into product, and
a roof leak that allowed rainwater contaminated with bird feces to drip
onto peanuts. All of this happened before the massive
Salmonella outbreak of 2009. Although the widespread Salmonella
contamination was traced to PCA's Georgia plant, it was Kendrick's
whistleblowing on Good Morning America that belied the company's defense that the batch of peanut butter from the Georgia plant was an unexpected and isolated event.
- Other panelists will include Lewis Grossman, a co-author of the seminal legal text on the subject, Food and Drug Law; Caroline Smith-DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest and a principal architect of the FSMA; GAP Legal Director Tom Devine,
a leader in the whistleblower community for over 30 years, and many
more representatives from prominent national food safety nonprofit
organizations that focus on labor and consumer protections, including:
Food & Water Watch, Union of Concerned Scientists, United Food and
Commercial Workers International Union, Public Health Law Network,
Farmworker Justice, and several more.
For more information and updates to the conference schedule, visit the conference page on FIC's website here: http://foodwhistleblower.org/
It should be noted that the new protections cover all private food industry workers who report any food violations enforced by the FDA.
However, the protections generally do not extend to employees who
report violations of USDA regulations, which cover the meat and poultry
"These FDA protections serve as a model whistleblower provision for
other areas where workers still lack safeguards for speaking up," said
Hitt. "Private sector workers defending USDA food safety laws as well as
federal employees can still be fired for doing the right thing."
Devine will be leading a conference workshop, Whistleblower Law 101,
to address actions that workers can take in the face of retaliation for
attempting to report food violations enforced by the FDA.
All panelists will be available to speak with the media during and in
the days prior to the event. All attending guests must register at WCL's
FIC's mission is to enhance overall food integrity
by facilitating truth-telling. FIC accomplishes this mission by
strategically working to alter the relationship of power between the
food industry and consumers; protecting the rights of those who speak
out against the practices that compromise food integrity; and empowering
industry whistleblowers and citizen activists. More than just food
safety, food integrity implies a global perspective of food that is
produced in ways consistent with community values, principles, and
beliefs - from soil to plate.
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.