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Using eDiscovery in the Food Industry

Using Electronic Discovery in the Food Industry

This article, “Using eDiscovery in the Food Industry,” was originally published in Food Quality & Safety, where BIA’s Brian Schrader outlines four steps to help food manufacturers establish a predictable, repeatable model for data collection and review – and why they need to do so.

When litigation is inevitable, get your eDiscovery plan in place.

Legal matters come up all the time in the food industry, anywhere along the journey from farm to fork. Think: salmonella or E.coli outbreaks, labeling errors, unknown ingredients, personal injury or product liability matters, and more. In such an industry where litigation is a constant concern, it simply doesn’t make good business sense to treat electronic discovery (eDiscovery) and data collection as an afterthought.

If your company has not yet incorporated eDiscovery as a standard, day-to-day business process, there are steps you can take to help your company rethink its approach. With standard plans for eDiscovery, food manufacturers can respond to each new legal matter confidently, while avoiding unnecessary stress, costs, and disruptions along the way.  

Step 1: Establish an eDiscovery process framework.

Envision the eDiscovery scenario by asking key questions. In the article, Brian suggests six specific questions to ask about the current state of the company. Figure out who will be involved in eDiscovery, weigh those employees’ existing workloads, and think through the work involved with obligations like meeting legal data preservation requirements and proper data storage. Once you’ve established the key employees, roles, and processes, you can then lay out an eDiscovery plan.

Step 2: Choose the right eDiscovery platforms.

There is a myriad of digital platforms where data can be ingested, processed, analyzed, culled, set up for document review, and produced. Do research to determine which eDiscovery platform or platforms best fit your needs. After all, there is a risk, even if small, of data being compromised as it moves from platform to platform. Consider platforms that also include a data repository, since this could save you some money on the overall cost.

Step 3: Incorporate AI and machine learning technologies.

AI tools like TAR (technology-assisted review) have become customary elements of the managed review process offered by many eDiscovery providers today. Talk to an eDiscovery expert about how TAR can best help your company’s unique situation. This is a crucial development in the eDiscovery industry in terms of gaining accuracy in handling data while reducing time (and money) spent.

Step 4: Leverage your legal spend across matters.

After you’ve collected and reviewed documents for one legal matter, securely archive the results for use in future cases, too. With a comprehensive approach to reusing work product, you will leverage your legal spend to the greatest extent possible and lower your overall costs. As you regularly organize and archive new data, it becomes easily accessible when the next legal matter arises.

Every litigation menu should start with a helping of eDiscovery.

Incorporate eDiscovery in your day-to-day business operations so that you don’t have to start from zero with every legal matter. By being proactive with an eDiscovery plan developed ahead of time, your company will avoid unnecessary upheaval in daily operations. Reclaim even more time by saving existing data that has already gone through legal review for reuse in future cases—because you know that future cases will come up. Simplifying the process reduces your overall legal spend, and you can be confident in your improved chances of presenting complete and accurate cases when future legal matters occur.

Who’s serving up your eDiscovery?

Making eDiscovery a standardized business practice does require some work up-front, but it pays off over and over again for companies in the highly regulated food industry. As veteran eDiscovery vendors, we at BIA have worked with various corporations over two decades, and we’ve contributed our expertise to a variety of corporate eDiscovery situations in that time, too. Cases go more smoothly when companies start out with solid eDiscovery protocols set in place at the outset, and overall legal spend can be lower thanks to this planning.

So, what can you do for your business? For one, you can bring on a set team of eDiscovery experts to assess your company’s legal situation and potential needs, and have the team manage the entire eDiscovery process for you—from protocol planning to final productions. If you’d rather ask some questions before hiring managed eDiscovery services, consult with those eDiscovery experts; they can help you figure out what you can do within your organization. And if you’re more into reading than phone calls these days, consider getting an eDiscovery Best Practices Guide customized to your company’s particular needs.

Quality eDiscovery Requires Care

Read more about the steps you can take to establish a reliable, repeatable eDiscovery plan.