Leeman v. Berkeley Bowl Produce, Inc.

Posted: 02/19/2013  browse the case archive

The parties executed an out-of-court Settlement Agreement on March 19, 2013, which resolved citizen enforcer Whitney R. Leeman, Ph.D.’s allegations that the settling party Berkeley Bowl Produce, Inc. (“Berkeley Bowl”) sold flame-cooked ground beef containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, including benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene in the State of California without providing the requisite health hazard warnings. 

As part of the settlement, Berkeley Bowl agreed not to sell any flame-cooked ground beef in California after March 19, 2013, unless the restaurants where the ground beef is sold have Proposition 65 warnings provided as outlined in Section 2.1 or the ground beef complies with the reformulation standards pursuant to Section 2.4.  Additionally, Berkeley Bowl must conduct compliance reviews at least once every six months for three years, beginning on April 21, 2013.  Should Berkeley Bowl comply with these heightened standards and modify its cooking equipment or method to reduce or eliminate consumer exposure by July 1, 2013, Leeman agreed to waive a portion of the civil fine that would otherwise be applied.    

The Settlement Agreement requires settlement payments of $25,000, divided therein between civil penalties, 75% of which are paid to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and compensation to whistleblower Leeman and her counsel for their successful enforcement of this matter in the public interest.

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