Consumers Union Poll: 80 Percent of Americans Want Congress to Pass Food Safety Legislation Immediately

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For Immediate Release: July 12, 2010

Consumers Union Poll: 80 Percent of Americans Want Congress to Pass Food Safety Legislation Immediately

Yonkers, NY—Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, today released new poll data showing that 80 percent of Americans want Congress to immediately give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to recall food when it poses a danger to health and safety. FDA food safety reform legislation that would give FDA that power, as well as require it to inspect all high-risk food processors at least once a year, passed the House of Representatives a year ago but is now stalled awaiting Senate action. The poll can be found online at http://www.consumersunion.org/pdf/Food-Safety-Poll-0610.pdf.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans want Congress to make our food safe now,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union. “Most people are shocked to find out that FDA can’t even order a recall—it must request companies to voluntarily retrieve contaminated food. It is essential that the Senate pass S. 510, the bi-partisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, before it adjourns in early August.”

President Obama last week also asked the Senate to pass the bill, noting it, “[a]ddresses longstanding challenges in the food safety and defense system by promoting a prevention-oriented approach to the safety of our food supply and provides the Federal Government with the appropriate tools to accomplish its core food safety goals.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, 76 million Americans are sickened, 325,000 hospitalized, and 5,000 die from consuming contaminated food. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has reported that FDA inspects less than a quarter of all food facilities each year, and that more than half of all food facilities have gone five or more years without an FDA inspection.

A recent report on food safety by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council also notes the many gaps in the FDA’s current performance in food safety, and recommends that Congress increase the agency’s authority to act. The report urges that Congress require all food processors to register with the FDA (which is not required under current law), to act proactively to prevent foodborne illness, and tell the FDA when they discover adulterated products.  S. 510 accomplishes all of these things.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey using a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,007 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place from June 24-27, 2010. The margin of error is 3.2 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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Contacts:

David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org, 202.462.6262

Naomi Starkman, nstarkman@gmail.com, 917.539.3924