Chain Restaurant Food Safety Systems Expert for Litigation Support

Food Safety in Fast Food and Chain Restaurants

Jack in the Box: E. coli O157:H7 Food-Borne Illness Case

Ms. Beck served as an expert witness to the law firm representing the plaintiffs in a San Diego County lawsuit filed against over ten ground beef suppliers to the Jack in the Box chain restaurant. In this food-borne illness case, hamburger patties produced by Von Companies of California and sold by Jack in the Box were determined to be the cause of an extremely dangerous outbreak of E. coli O157:H7.

Patrons of the Jack in the Box chain restaurant who ate the contaminated hamburgers became ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), or bloody diarrhea in layman’s terms. Many were hospitalized and several died from the E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

In her capacity as an expert witness in the Jack in the Box E. coli case, Ms. Beck provided the following litigation support services over a two-year period:

  • Consulted on the standard industry relationships and expectations between the food suppliers to fast food chain restaurants and the fast food franchisor
  • Gave depositions on reasonable and customary chain restaurant food safety procedures
  • Reviewed the depositions of all opposing experts
  • Advised the attorneys on the industry standards for food storage, preparation and handling, and the role of suppliers as well as franchisors in establishing chain’s standards
  • Gave depositions on how specific Jack-in-the-Box ground beef suppliers’ practices compared to the standard industry ground beef operating procedures.

Ms. Beck’s work as an expert witness contributed to a successful outcome of individual and class-action settlements totaling more than $50 million. At the time this was the largest payment on record involving food-borne illness.

Burger King: Cold Beverage Food Preparation Procedures

The build up of bacteria in an iced tea container was the subject of a legal dispute in this case brought by a consumer who charged that they became ill after drinking iced tea purchased from a Burger King fast food restaurant. The consumer sued both the Burger King franchisee and Burger King Corporation.

Ms. Beck was retained by the attorney for the Burger King franchisee, and her work included the following:

  • Review Burger King’s operations procedures for making and storing iced tea and other cold beverages
  • Identify the key food safety considerations involved in cold beverages
  • Explain the food science reasons for why the Burger King operations manual specifies certain time and temperature requirements
  • Educate the parties to the litigation on the food safety procedures for cleaning the vessel between batches of cold beverage storage
  • Detail the steps followed by the restaurant staff in preparing and storing iced tea in accordance with the Burger King operations manual
  • Describe how bacteria is controlled in fast food chain restaurants through the strict adherence to carefully formulated time and temperature guidelines

The case was ultimately settled, based in part on the strength of Ms. Beck’s expert report.

Burger King: Hot Beverage Food Preparation Procedures

Ms. Beck served as an expert witness in several cases similar to the now famous McDonald’s hot coffee dispute.

In these court cases brought against Burger King, consumers brought suit after being burned on their hands or legs while handling hot coffee purchased at a Burger King drive-through window. Ms. Beck was retained by the attorneys representing Burger King Corporation.

The primary dispute in these cases revolved around the food science of hot coffee preparation, storage, and consumer delivery. Ms. Beck addressed the following matters in her capacity as an expert on food preparation standards:

  • Explained why coffee is made so hot
  • Described the coffee brewing process, which requires that hot water be heated to within a temperature range of 185-198 degrees in order for the coffee’s flavor chemicals to be released from the coffee grounds
  • Addressed the characteristics of flavor and aroma in standard operations for coffee preparation

Ms. Beck prepared an expert report for the case, which contributed to case dismissals and settlements.

Fast Food Chain Restaurant Food Preparation Expert for Litigation Support

Juelene Beck is available to discuss litigation matters involving questions of food preparation and standard industry operations in chain restaurants.
She can address topics related to:

  • Franchisor-franchisee relationships
  • Relationships between chain restaurant suppliers and chain restaurant purchasing groups
  • Product related issues
  • Standard industry operations in chain restaurants
  • Quality assurance/food safety in chain restaurants

Contact Juelene Beck by email or by calling 786-457-3363 to learn more about litigation support and consulting services relating to chain restaurant operations, food safety, and food-borne illness.