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How FDA Delays are Putting American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Food

Foodborne Illness Racks up $22 million in Economic Costs in 2012 and 2013.
For Immediate Release

SEATTLE, October 31 – Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put Washington lives at risk and cost the country $22 million in economic costs, according to a new report by WashPIRG Foundation. Here in Washington in the last 12 months, 75 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses from recalled products and the cost in Washington was $821,730. Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year.  The report can be found here.

“While the FDA delays acting on rules to keep dangerous foods from coming to market, we’ve seen hundreds of food products recalled for causing sickness and in some cases death,” said Chris Esh, Program Associate for WashPIRG Foundation. “This year has already seen an increase in foodborne illness compared with 2012, with high-profile outbreaks of Cyclospora and antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, and it’s time for the FDA to do more to protect us from the contaminants that are putting American lives at risk.”

According to recall information compiled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), from October 2012 to October 2013 in Washington State there were:
•75 cases of foodborne illnesses from recalled store products;
•The foodborne illness cases cost Washington $821,730, and cost an average of $11,086 to treat;
•The most recent outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant strain of Salmonella Heidelberg from tainted chicken currently is up to 15 cases.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, with strong support from WashPIRG Foundation, consumer groups and public health groups.  The law was designed to give the FDA new tools and new powers to protect consumers. However, the Act is still not being fully implemented and our foods remain unsafe.

“We need a food safety system that is fully funded and fully staffed so it can stop unsafe food from reaching our dinner tables,” said Esh.   “We must move away from the current reactive approach, where recalls happen after dangerous products have already made it into families’ kitchens, and focus on prevention.  The Food Safety Modernization Act should be fully implemented and the Administration should not waste any more time in strengthening our food safety systems.” 

The report is available here at the WashPIRG Foundation website.

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WashPIRG Foundation, the Washington State Public Interest Research Group, takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being.

For more information visit http://www.washpirgfoundation.org

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