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Austin, September 8-- Last month’s nationwide recall of half a billion eggs was just one of more than 85 recalls involving 153 food companies since July 2009. During this time, the U.S. Senate has failed to pass needed protections, according to Recipe for Disaster, a study released today by TexPIRG, Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
According to this study, 63 recalls have occurred in Texas due to contamination by Salmonella and other bacteria related to food borne illness in the last 14 months. For example, in May, Texans learned that alfalfa sprouts were recalled and then in August, they learned about the egg recall. The food was already on store shelves or in Texans’ kitchens when these recalls were announced.
“Too many of us heard about the egg recall as we sat down to breakfast and had to wonder where the omelet on our plate came from,” said TexPIRG State Associate Emily Slatter. “The problem is more than just eggs. It’s our failed food safety net and the 14 months we’ve had to wait for the Senate to finish the job of fixing it.”
In July 2009, the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) to update our food safety net. In November 2009, the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed its version of the bill, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510); but no floor action has yet been scheduled in the Senate and Americans continue to be at risk.
Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farm’s voluntary recall happened two and a half months after the first Salmonella illness was detected because the FDA does not have the authority or resources to properly safeguard our food. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act would update the 70 year old law governing the FDA: requiring mandatory inspection frequency, stronger traceback provisions, and mandatory recall authority.
“Americans deserve to know that the food they feed their families is safe. That is why Congress must address the unconscionable fact that every year 76 million Americans are sickened from consuming contaminated food and 5,000 of them die,” said Representative Doggett. “As this report illustrates, the egg recall is only the latest illustration of what is wrong with our Nation’s food safety net. I am working with my House colleagues to ensure that food safety legislation provides as much consumer protection as possible without encroaching on the operations of small and organic farms. From plow to plate, we must protect all from illnesses and diseases that could do us harm.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that tens of millions of Americans get sick every year from food borne illnesses like Salmonella and E. coli, with hundreds of thousands hospitalized and 5,000 deaths each year. The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of much of the food sold in the U.S., has not had its authority updated in seventy years.
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