News Release

Egg Recalls Reveal Scrambled Food Safety System

MASSPIRG Calls on Congress to Bring Food Safety into the 21st Century
For Immediate Release

BOSTON, September 8—In just over a year, there have been 85 recalls of food in the United States, including last month’s nationwide recall of half a billion eggs from two Iowa egg farms. Congress has failed to pass needed protections, according to Recipe for Disaster, a study released by MASSPIRG, Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest. 

“The problem is about more than just eggs,” said Micaela Preskill, MASSPIRG Consumer Associate.  “It’s about a failed food safety net and the 14 months we’ve had to wait for the Senate to fix it.” In Massachusetts, 54 food items were recalled over the last 13 months due to contamination by Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Just this week, a recall on ground beef sold by some BJ’s stores affected consumers in several cities throughout the Commonwealth. In all cases, the food was already on store shelves or in our kitchens when the recalls were announced.

“This kind of delay is simply unacceptable,” continued Preskill. “Why should we have to wait until more people are affected?”

Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farm’s voluntary recall happened two and a half months after the first Salmonella illness was detected. This is because the FDA does not have the authority to properly safeguard our food. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will require the FDA to inspect all food facilities more frequently and will give the agency the authority to order a mandatory recall of contaminated food. The FDA Modernization Act is the best way to keep food-processing facilities from being negligent and continuing unsafe practices. The House passed food safety legislation in July 2009, but the Senate has failed to take action on this important legislation. 

“We don’t have the mailman deliver our emails. We shouldn’t be relying on a food regulatory system that was last updated in the 1940s to keep our food safe,” said Lizzi Weyant, staff attorney for MASSPIRG. “We need a food safety system that can prevent unsafe food from making it to our dinner tables, and we need the Senate to act now.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that tens of millions of Americans get sick every year from food borne illnesses like Salmonella and E. coli, with hundreds of thousands hospitalized and 5,000 deaths each year. The Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for the safety of much of the food sold in the U.S., has not had its authority updated in seventy years.

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