Report: Unsafe food putting lives at risk
|Author: By Todd Sperry, CNN|
Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Washington (CNN) -- Despite sweeping reform of food safety laws intended to make what we eat less dangerous, the number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% since last year, according to a report released Wednesday.
Tainted cantaloupe, unsafe mangoes, meat and the recent peanut butter recall -- which so far has infected 25 people, mostly children in 19 states -- has left consumers struggling to keep up with the dizzying list of ever-changing toxic edibles.
Approximately 48 million people get sick from eating tainted food each year, the report's authors, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said, arguing more must be done to protect Americans from unsafe food.
The report says there were 718 illnesses directly linked to food recalls in 2011. There were 1,035 illnesses from January to September 2012 -- an increase of 44%.
Two years ago, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, a vast piece of legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration, among other things, more power to be proactive holding food suppliers responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks.
But while some parts of the law have been enacted, the vast majority of the law's regulatory framework remains in limbo, sitting in the White House Office of Management and Budget, with no clear timetable for implementation.
When asked about the delays, OMB spokeswoman Moira Mack told CNN, "We have taken key steps, including putting out a food safety rule cracking down on salmonella in eggs and expanding E. coli testing for beef. We are working as expeditiously as possible to implement the food safety legislation we fought so hard for. When it comes to rules with this degree of importance and complexity, it is critical that we get it right."
The report also takes issue with the delayed response and plans in Congress to cut FDA funding.
"In February, the president's budget requested $4.5 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. But budget proposals in both the Senate and the House fall below this target, coming in $600 (million) to $700 million below full funding, which the Office of Management and Budget has called 'harmful' to food safety regulations," the Public Interest Research Group says.
The group's report also says the FDA hasn't been able to keep up with increased demands for inspection of imported foods. Nearly 15% of food consumed in the United States is imported, and the FDA's own data indicates two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables on American's dinner plates are from foreign food suppliers.
Yet in 2008 the FDA inspected only 153 of roughly 189,000 registered foreign food facilities.
Instead of improving, the problem of foodborne outbreaks is getting worse, the report says.
"When comparing 2010 infection incidences with national health objective targets ... the only incidence rate that meets the target goal was the incidence of infection with E. coli O157," the report says. "The incidence of salmonella was three times the 2010 national health objective target, which is especially alarming, as salmonella causes the majority of hospitalizations and deaths from foodborne disease."
The report argues the FDA needs to be provided with funding, develop concrete and specific standards for inspection at all facilities, perform more unannounced inspections, coordinate with other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and put more resources toward monitoring the causes of foodborne illness.
For its part, the FDA told CNN, "The rule-making process can take time, and we are working diligently to get this right. We are confident the end result will be a solid framework to strengthen and modernize our nation's food safety system."
The Public Interest Research Group's report joins a growing chorus of food safety advocates demanding increased scrutiny of the U.S. food supply and those calling for complete implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The group helped design the framework for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency created to regulate the banking industry's consumer marketing tactics. Whether Wednesday's scathing report will lead to similar results remains to be seen.
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,