Food Safety Scares 2013: How FDA Delays are Putting American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Food

Media Contacts
Evan Preston

Foodborne Illness Racks up $22 million in Economic Costs in 2012 and 2013

ConnPIRG Education Fund

Hartford, October 31 – Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put Connecticut lives at risk and cost the country $22 million in economic costs, according to a new report by the ConnPIRG Education Fund. Here in Connecticut, in the last 12 months, 8 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses outbreaks which cost us over 67 thousand dollars. As a country, contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year.  

“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 Abe Scarr, Director of the ConnPIRG Education Fund. “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 there were:

  •  1,494 foodborne Illnesses reported; 
  •  335 hospitalizations due to foodborne illness;
  •  2 deaths;
  •  615  incidences of Salmonella linked to food products; and
  •  643 incidences of Cyclospora linked to food products.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, with strong support from ConnPIRG, 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.

“Our food safety system is broken and this report makes clear exactly what is at stake if we do not make good on the promise of the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut Congresswoman. “I was proud to champion that law. However Congress has not provided enough money to implement it and industry pressures have kept it from fully going into effect. We must stop going down the current path, and make changes, including the creation of a single food safety agency, so that no family has to worry their dinner will send them to the hospital.”

“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 Scarr.   “We must move away from the current reactive approach, where recalls happen after dangerous products have already made it into families’ homes, 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.”