In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, signaling the first major update to our nation’s food safety oversight framework since the Great Depression. Despite widespread support for the legislation and its implementation, the Obama administration still has not issued all of the proposed rules under FSMA.More info
''As Food Recalls Mount, White House Still Lingering Over New Safety Rules''
"Families who’ve lost loved ones to foodborne illnesses have watched with alarm in recent months as producers have recalled mangoes, cantaloupe, ricotta cheese, dog food and peanut butter after people were sickened by the tainted goods.A landmark food safety law passed nearly two years ago was supposed to help curtail such outbreaks. But the Obama administration has yet to issue the final rules that will give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over food producers.
The rules are supposed hold producers accountable for the quality of their products and produce and will allow federal regulators to better track and contain outbreaks. Some food safety advocates believe such rules could have helped prevent the most recent salmonella outbreak in peanut butter, which has sickened 35 people since June, mostly children younger than 10. A peanut butter recall was expanded last week and fallout continues; on Wednesday an ice cream company in California, Clemmy’s, recalled its peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream because of salmonella fears.
"We have to get ahead of it,” said Paul Schwarz of Independence, Mo., whose 92-year-old father died earlier this year after eating cantaloupe tainted with listeria, a particularly nasty bacteria for older people to fight off. "It’s not a matter of party. To me, it’s a matter of life or death."
"Food safety advocates are antsy. "We’ve got to get these things moving," said Sandra Eskin, the project director of the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign.
Producers, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food producers who sell goods to grocery stores, want the rules released, too, said Leon Bruner, chief science officer for group.
The new law will require processors to look at their entire operation to identify points where contamination is likely, and it will put in place measures to limit contamination. It would make FDA oversight more comparable to poultry and meat monitoring by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, experts say.
Most reputable food processors already comply with such rules, said Linda Harris, associate director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis. "For most people who are applying food safety principles to food safety processing, it’s not going to be a huge change,” she said.
Once the rules are released, there are some in Congress and in the industry who fear the looming post-election budget fights could mean the FDA won’t have the money to actually implement the law. Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign estimates it will cost $200 million to apply the lawhand, I always look at food safety as the incredibly low-hanging fruit in terms of doing something positive," he said."
"Some families, though, are unsure that more government regulation is the answer. They include Jeff Allgood of Chubbuck, Idaho, whose 2-year-old son Kyle died in 2006 after drinking a homemade smoothie containing spinach tainted by E. coli. Allgood said he has come to believe that food producers need to regulate themselves.
"I look at the debt that our government’s incurring right now, and for them to hire a bunch of inspectors and more food police, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense right now," Allgood said.
Yet he and his wife, Robyn, helped push for the law’s passage, and relate their son’s story frequently. They tell people they have five children, "including Kyle." He would have been 9 in December, a big brother to two younger siblings born after his death.
"In a lot of ways, we’re still raising our son Kyle," Allgood said. "We think about what he would be doing. We still talk about him daily."
"The Food and Drug Administration will not reduce food inspections because of budget cuts, despite warning earlier that it could be forced to eliminate thousands of inspections by Sept. 30."More info
"Twenty-two weeks. That’s how long it took federal health officials to determine the contaminated food source after the first person was infected in a 2011 outbreak of salmonella that swept across 34 states, sickened 136 people and led to one of the largest national recalls of ground turkey."More info
Slow Government Response Likely Contributed to More Illnesses in 2011 Salmonella Outbreak in Ground Turkey, Pew Report Finds
An examination of a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to ground turkey illustrates that health authorities must be more aggressive in their efforts to detect and respond to foodborne illnesses, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, titled “Too Slow: An Analysis of the 2011 Salmonella Ground Turkey Outbreak and Recommendations for Improving Detection and Response.” In all, the contaminated food sickened a reported 136 people in the United States, hospitalized 37 and killed one, according to government data.More info
A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to ground turkey in 2011 sickened 136 people, causing 37 hospitalizations and one death. The Pew Charitable Trusts' analysis of the outbreak found numerous inadequacies in the foodborne illness surveillance system that, if addressed, could help to prevent illnesses and, in some cases, deaths.More info
"Six years ago, Bend resident Chrissy Christoferson's ten-month-old son suffered a ten-day struggle with what first appeared to be a touch of the flu."More info
"Portlander Joe Day tearfully recalled the year his family spent Thanksgiving in a hospital cafeteria, as his sister, suffering from e coli, fought for her life several floors above."More info
My name is Jennifer Exley, and I reside in Centennial, Colorado. I am the daughter of Herbert Stevens, who was deeply impacted by listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in August 2011. As you well know, 147 people were sickened and 33 people died in that outbreak — the deadliest in 25 years. My father was one of the so-called lucky survivors. His health and quality of life was, and remains, seriously affected because of something he ate.More info
''Several hundred farmers, regulators and consumers from Alaska to North Dakota to California gathered in Portland on Wednesday to listen to federal plans to overhaul the food safety system."More info
The Obama administration has taken an important step by releasing the draft rules central to implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but it must do more. Important draft regulations focused on the safety of imported foods are still awaiting release. These rules are especially important since about two-thirds of fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood consumed in the United States come from abroad.More info
On Thursday, February 28 and Friday, March 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C., on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) draft rules released earlier this year. The public will also have the opportunity to testify at agency meetings in Chicago and Portland on March 11-12 and March 27-28, respectively.More info