Recalling a year of recalls

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By Consumers Union on Thursday, September 9th, 2010

That’s the number of new victims our broken food safety system has claimed during the past year while the Senate has dragged its feet on passing a bill.

Credit goes to the House which, in the wake of last year’s Salmonella peanut butter outbreak, acted relatively quickly to address the issue and passed food safety legislation in July 2009.   Fast-forward one year and 85 food recalls later:  still no Senate bill and 1,850 tainted-food illnesses to show for it.

These numbers are the key findings in Recipe for Disaster, a report released this week by ally consumer groups* and foodborne illness survivors, who point to the need for Senate action to address the problems plaguing our current food production system.

According to the report, 36 of the 85 recalls within the past year were due to Salmonella contamination, with Listeria coming in at second place with 32.   Recalled products ran the gamut from cheese to waffles, salad to potato chips.   Since most foodborne illnesses go unreported and/or unidentified, actual numbers of people sickened are likely even much higher than the 1,850 tallied in the report.

At a press event yesterday, 13-year-old Rylee Gustafson, who survived – barely – after eating E. coli-tainted spinach,  called on lawmakers to get the job done.   “I want to know that the food on my plate is safe,” she said.  “I hope that the Senate can finish work on the food safety bill, and that other kids won’t have to suffer from a foodborne illness like I did.”

Urge the Senate to finally pass the food safety bill by taking action here.

*The report was prepared by Consumers for Science in the Public Interest, U.S. PIRG and the Consumer Federation of America.

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