Gee said that as soon as Wal-Mart became aware of the outbreak associated with cantaloupes from the Rocky Ford area, the retailer worked with suppliers to determine the source, removing them before Jensen announced a recall.
She said recent foodborne outbreaks and concerns reported by regulatory officials in the U.S. and abroad, linked to small and local suppliers, prompted Wal-Mart to improve the
retailer’s process for sourcing products from secondary and local suppliers.
“Based on some findings, we have cut ties with some suppliers,” she said Nov. 10.
Gee said Wal Mart was in the process of requiring the chain’s secondary suppliers to achieve prevention-based certification on one of the Global Food Safety Initiative-benchmarked standards.
Although growers, processors and distributors are often defendants in similar outbreaks, retailers haven’t been exempt from damages in the past. Marler said some retailers and helped pay claims resulting from a salmonella outbreak case in 2008 and 2009 when the Peanut Corp. of America went bankrupt, leaving victims looking for compensation.
Marler said Jensen Farms has $2 million in insurance and Frontera $10 million to cover claims.
Frontera disputes that number, and Marler's account of the lawsuits' effect on the company.
“Unfortunately, there has been much unfounded speculation surrounding this matter from the very beginning,” according to a statement from Mulhern. “We simply won't engage in it. What’s important for everyone to know is that our company and its dedicated employees look forward to serving our customers for many years to come.”
Besides the claims filed by Marler’s firm, there are at least five other lawsuits, he said.