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Washington, DC - Statement of U.S. PIRG Public Health Advocate Liz Hitchcock on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that President Obama signed today, strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety authority for the first time in 70 years.
“The President’s signature on the Food Safety Modernization Act finally brings food safety protections for American consumers into the 21st Century.”
“From eggs to spinach to peanuts, consumers learn too often that the food they’ve already purchased is unsafe to eat after people have already gotten sick. Salmonella and E coli outbreaks can only be effectively contained by preventing them in the first place.
“By requiring inspections and giving FDA authority to recall potentially contaminated food, this historic legislation will enable FDA to prevent outbreaks of food-borne illness and to react quickly to contain them by recalling dangerous food.
“According to an analysis released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans get sick, tens of thousands are hospitalized, and more than 3000 people die each year in the United States from eating contaminated food. These numbers represent unacceptable preventable illnesses that FDA can now begin to address.
“The FDA must now develop strong regulations to put the law to work for American consumers, and Congress must provide sufficient resources to allow FDA to fulfill its food safety mandate.”
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will protect consumers by:
- Requiring more frequent inspections of food facilities to make sure they are following the rules.
- Giving the FDA the authority to order a recall of potentially contaminated food.
- Requiring the food manufacturers to have food-safety plans that will prevent contaminated food from reaching consumers.
- Setting responsible standards for produce safety, so parents can have confidence that fresh fruits and vegetables are nutritious and safe to serve to their children.
- Setting standards for imported food to end the practice by foreign producers of dumping unsafe food on the American market.
According to WashPIRG public interest advocate Steve Breaux, the passage of new food safety protections is especially important for Washington consumers in the wake of recent news stories of Washington cheese makers linked to an e. Coli outbreak and will establish critical protections from preventable food-borne illness.
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