The Center for Law, Health and Society represents the culmination of research, educational and community outreach initiatives developed in the health law field at Georgia State University. For more information about the center, visit clhs.law.gsu.edu.


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Prof. Lytton Speaks on the Significance of Kosher Certification

lytton finalThe Orthodox Union (OU), the largest and most highly valued kosher certifier in the world, provides the coveted “stamp of approval” to qualifying kosher restaurants.  Professor Timothy Lytton, in The Jewish Week’s March 16 article “Prime Battle Over Kosher Practices” commented on the significance of a restaurant’s attainment of OU certification. “When the OU supervises a restaurant, it has to be thinking about the trustworthiness of the person in charge.” Lytton also noted that “[i]f the OU leaves because it considers a restaurant unreliable, most other reputable certifiers will be wary.”

Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law and a member of the Center for Law, Health & Society. His research examines health and safety regulation with a focus on food policy. He is the author of Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (Harvard U. Press 2013) and is currently writing a book on the U.S. food safety system.


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Prof. Lytton Speaks on Recent Food Safety Lawsuits

lytton finalIn recent years, the public has increasingly become aware of foodborne illnesses resulting from manufacturers’ and chain restaurants’ poor food safety practices. Most recently, in fall 2015, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. had to temporarily close numerous of its restaurants, coast to coast, as a result of Salmonella, norovirus, and E. coli outbreaks linked to its restaurants. The outbreaks sickened over 500 people. In addition to consumer civil lawsuits, the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped in to investigate. If DOJ decides to move forward with the case, prosecution may lead to criminal liability, both for the company, as a whole, and for the executives, individually. Although DOJ has had the legal power to prosecute similar cases to this extent in the past, recent policy changes, including the guidance from the 2015 Yates Memo, have prompted stricter rules and more forceful investigations.

Professor Timothy Lytton commented on the issue in Corporate Counsel’s March 1 article “Food Scare: Chipotle’s Woes Highlight Supply Chain Risks for Execs.” Lytton states: “what happens in the evolution of public policies is that there are certain focusing events, things that for some reason or another capture people’s attention and create pressure for policy change.” The two events he identifies as drivers for the policy change is the 2008 Virginia-based Peanut Corporation of America’s salmonella outbreak, where 714 people became ill and nine people died, and the 2011 Jensen Farm’s listeria outbreak, where 147 people became ill and thirty-three people died. He further notes, however, that although DOJ has great legal leeway to bring individual prosecutions, their resources are limited. As such, DOJ tends to focus its prosecution “in cases where there are repeated violation and apparent refusal to clean up the process…or where they consider there to be gross negligence.”

Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law and a member of the Center for Law, Health & Society. His research examines health and safety regulation with a focus on food policy. He is the author of Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (Harvard U. Press 2013) and is currently writing a book on the U.S. food safety system.


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Prof. Lytton Quoted in AJC on Criminal Litigation after Peanut Execs Sentenced to Prison

lytton finalOn Sept. 21, a Georgia jury convicted Stewart Parnell, CEO of Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), and his brother Michael Parnell, a food broker, along with Mary Wilkerson, quality assurance manager, for knowingly shipping out salmonella-tainted peanut butter. They were sentenced to 28, 20, and five years respectively. Nine people died and 714 others became ill across 46 states from the outbreak. Following the outbreak, investigators discovered unsanitary conditions at the company’s processing plants–including bird droppings infiltrating from a leaky roof and rats in the processing equipment. After laboratory testing revealed salmonella, Parnell sought other laboratories willing to provide better results. He then had the tainted peanut butter shipped to stores for sale. Professor Timothy Lytton is quoted in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution‘s article, “Prison for peanut execs sets new example,” suggesting that, although this sentence is likely to send strong signals throughout the food industry, it is unclear what impact this case will have on other areas of product safety such as automobile design.

Timothy D. Lytton is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law. His research examines health and safety regulation with a focus on food policy. He is the author of Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (Harvard U. Press 2013) and is currently writing a book on the U.S. food safety system.


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Prof. Timothy Lytton quoted on lawsuits related to food safety

5-26-15-Litton1-300x300Prof. Timothy Lytton is quoted in Eater‘s June 18 article “Is Jail Time the Solution to America’s Food Safety Problem?” on the growing trend to criminally prosecute violations of federal food safety laws. Lytton points out that, in addition to criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits and the emergence of more stringent liability insurance policies are additional aspects of the nation’s legal system that hold great promise for advancing food safety.

Timothy D. Lytton will be a new faculty member at Georgia State University College of Law this fall. His research examines health and safety regulation with a focus on food policy. He is author of Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food (Harvard U. Press 2013) and is currently writing a book on the U.S. food safety system.