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REPORT CLAIMS "BROKEN" FOOD SAFETY SYSTEM: A report released Wednesday concludes an increase in food recalls underscores a national food safety system that is broken, in part due to insufficient funding to support the Food Safety Modernization Act signed by President Barack Obama in January 2011. According to the report from MassPIRG, 48 people in Massachusetts were made sick from foodborne illnesses linked directly to food recalls over the past 21 months, costing the state $532,000. Nationally, according to the report, 37 deaths were directly linked to recalls of food products during that same period, with $227 million in related economic and health-related costs. The report is based on an analysis of nationwide recall information issued by the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety Inspection Service from January 2011 to September 2012. Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MassPIRG, identified two problems that are hampering improvements in the food safety system. The FDA is late in releasing regulations under the January 2011 law and Congress has recommended FDA funding for the new law that is as much as $700 million less than the “full funding” recommended by Obama of $4.5 billion. The report also concluded that many state food safety laws are outdated and “unable to effectively protect us from foodborne pathogens, particularly in an environment where more and more foods are imported.” The report says there were 718 illnesses linked directly to food recalls in the United States in 2011, with 1,035 illnesses tied to food recalls so far in 2012. “In other words, instead of things getting better, they appear to be getting worse,” the report says. “Our food safety practices are falling short.” 12:02 p.M.
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