Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On the Farm With CSI Miami

Prime time television drama takes on agricultural law. Here's the teaser for this week's episode of CSI Miami, Bad Seed:
When several seemingly unrelated deaths turn out to be part of a sudden outbreak of E. Coli, Alexx returns to help the team as they race to find the source of it to stop the death toll from rising.
Yes, last night, Horatio and his band of crime fighters took on food safety issues, and the result could have been an issue-spotting exam for Ag Law 101. The one hour drama centered on the death of two young lovers. What began as a homicide investigation ended up with the bereaved family preparing for a civil lawsuit.

Traceability problems were a major issue. The E. Coli was linked to a spinach salad (wonder where that idea came from?) and was eventually traced back to run off from a feedlot up the hill. It is clear that Horatio works much faster than the CDC, who was missing in action in this episode.

But what was even more amazing was the host of other ag law issues that were tossed in, leading Christopher and I to wonder who consulted on the episode. Vegie Libel laws came up several times; the organic standards; pollen drift and genetic contamination; farmer liability for having unauthorized GMO crops on their land; undocumented farm workers; farm consolidation; crop contamination via irrigation water; and the difficulty of local health departments confronted with food poisoning. Not the usual fare for prime time drama.

There were, of course, some legal missteps and some over simplifications. And, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association was offended, even though spinach (and ultimately corn - but I don't want to give away the end) were the deadly products. They already posted their rejoinder. I personally found it to be great fun to have people talking about farming and food issues. And, its main point - that food safety is a critical issue - is one that needs to be made.

Check out the MarlerBlog for Bill Marler's comments on the episode. The producers called him a couple weeks ago for some background information.

You can view the whole episode the CSI Miami website.

I should mention that I may be one of only a handful of folks that were focused on the agricultural law issues. Everyone else is talking about Calleigh and Eric. Did they break up??


Blogger Jesse said...

For Drew Kershen:

Leaving the fictional world of CSI: Miami, the real-world counterpart comes from Illinois. There are significant differences between reality and fiction as contrasting the television show to the Illinois Department of Public Health press release illustrates.



State Public Health Director Warns of Potentially Contaminated Baby Food

Plum Organics recalling Apple & Carrot Portable Pouch baby food

News Release - Illinois Department of Public Health

October 21, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), is urging parents to check their pantry shelves for packets of 4.22-ounce Apple & Carrot Portable Pouch baby food made by Plum Organics and sold individually at Toys-R-Us and Babies-R-Us locations nationally.

Plum Organics recalled the batch of baby food as a precaution due to the risk of potential contamination with Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Consumers should not use these products, even if they appear to be normal, because of the possible health risk.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning include general weakness, dizziness, double vision, and trouble speaking or swallowing. People who have ingested this product and are experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Consumers who have purchased the Plum Organics Apple & Carrot pouch-based baby food with a "best by" date of May 21, 2010 and with the UPC #890180001221, can return the product for a full refund at any Toys-R-Us or Babies-R-Us store. Consumers with questions can call Plum Organics at 888-974-3555 between 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. PST or e-mail info@plumorganics.com.

Drew L. Kershen

Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law

University of Oklahoma, College of Law

300 West Timberdell Road

Norman, Oklahoma 73019-5081 U.S.A.

p 1-405-325-4784

f 1-405-325-0389



10/22/2009 10:45 AM  

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