Consumers Union with the Make Our Food Safe coalition has just sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging them to:
…pass H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (FSEA) before the August district work period.
The letter, signed by a strong coalition of 13 groups including American Public Health Association and the Association of Schools of Public Health calls attention to the fact that on average one person every two hours dies from a foodborne illness.
Young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. The following are just two of many recent examples:
- Nine elderly people died earlier this year from eating peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella.
- Three people died in 2006 from consuming spinach contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 – including Kyle Allgood, of Chubbuck, Idaho, whose parents fed him spinach because they thought it was good for him. He died of kidney failure and a heart attack at the age of two.
Consumers Union is calling on the decision makers in DC to make several long-overdue repairs to our broken food safety system, including:
- Requiring that FDA inspect high-risk food processing facilities at least every 6-12 months, inspect lower-risk facilities at least every 18 months to 3 years, and warehouses once every 5 years (FDA currently inspects all facilities on average once every 10 years).
- Requiring all registered food facilities (domestic and foreign) to develop food safety plans that identify hazards and to employ strategies to minimize contaminants.
- Requiring businesses to maintain food safety records in a standard format so they are easier for FDA to review.
- Giving FDA the authority to order a recall if a company fails to do so when requested.
- Requiring domestic and foreign food processing facilities selling to American consumers to register with the FDA and pay an annual fee of $500, to help fund the cost of needed increased food safety activities.
- Requiring that FDA, within two years, create a system that will allow the agency to trace food to its source within two business days in the event of contamination. The need for this new authority was made clear during last year’s outbreak of Salmonella in peppers. FDA ran into a series of roadblocks before finally tracing the source to peppers grown on a farm in Mexico. Since the outbreak was first associated with tomatoes, the end result of the prolonged traceback was needless and costly harm to the U.S. tomato industry and to consumers who experienced foodborne illness.
- Increasing fines and penalties for violators of the law.
Click here to read the letter in its entirety.