FSMA Whistleblower Provision: A legal tool to secure public health
The Food Safety Modernization Act includes a model whistleblower provision. This provision has the potential to cover masses of would-be whistleblowers working in FDA-regulated food industries – from soil to plate. Panelists representing labor, consumer protection, and industry insiders will look at the public health benefits to be gained from the new protections in food manufacturing, packaging, distribution, and transport.
Moderator: Amanda Hitt, Government Accountability Project
Amanda Hitt is currently GAP's Food Integrity Campaign director. Ms. Hitt graduated cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law with a concentration in Government and Public Service. After law school, Ms. Hitt received her MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health. Prior to joining GAP, Ms. Hitt worked in both health research and policy. In addition to her work in public health, Ms. Hitt has a legal background in employment and civil rights law.
Matteo Colombi, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Matteo Colombi works for the research and campaigns department at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In the past, he has worked as a journalist, strategic consultant and a lecturer in political economy. He has been a life-long activist for social justice.
Kit Foshee, Industry Whistleblower (video starting at 35:50)
Kit Foshee is a former Corporate Quality Assurance Manager at the nation’s leading producer of lean boneless beef, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI), who was allegedly terminated for blowing the whistle on his company. Foshee blew the whistle on BPI’s questionable practice of using ammonia on beef trim to “cleanse” the product from microbes. Foshee openly questioned the ammoniation process and its ability to produce safe meat. His disclosures have been the subject of several news articles, as well as a front page article in the New York Times.
Kenneth Kendrick, Industry Whistleblower
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 feces 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.
Cristina M. Meneses, Public Health Law Network
Cristina is staff attorney with the Public Health Law Network—Eastern Region. Cristina has worked in health care law and policy in various forms: through litigation, legislation, developing trainings for health care providers and providing technical assistance for legal advocates. Cristina joined the Public Health Law Network after working as a disability law attorney representing individuals with claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Cristina also spent two years at Georgia Legal Services Program, where she litigated on behalf of low-income Georgians in the areas of health, family, public benefits, employment and elder law. In addition to litigation, she initiated and developed a taskforce of legal and health care providers to address health care and legal access issues faced by limited English proficiency individuals. Prior to her career in law, Cristina developed expertise in health policy work with a focus on eliminating health disparities. As a recreational therapist, consultant and instructor, she empowered clients to overcome the physical and psychological barriers they faced in their lives, while tackling systemic issues in the care facilities where she worked including racism, classism and discrimination based on sexual orientation and religion. Cristina is a member of the Georgia Bar and awaiting admission into the New York and Washington D.C. Bar. She received a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2008, an M.S. from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2005 and a B.S in Recreation Therapy from Ithaca College in 1999.