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Boston, October 24 – Despite government commitments to address the problem, food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken, according to a new report by MASSPIRG. Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year and costs over $77 billion in aggregated economic costs. In just the last 21 months here in Massachusetts, 48 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses linked directly to food recalls, costing the state $532 thousand.
“You can’t turn on the news without hearing about hundreds of food products recalled because they have caused sickness and in some cases death. This year, 2012, has already seen nearly twice as many illnesses due to recalls as 2011, with high-profile recalls of cantaloupes and hundreds of thousands of jars of peanut butter,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director for MASSPIRG. “More needs to be done to protect the public and identify and prevent foodborne illnesses.”
The report, “Total Food Recall: Unsafe Foods Putting American Lives at Risk,” analyzed nationwide recall information issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) from January 2011 to September 2012. During that period, there were:
- 1,753 foodborne Illnesses directly linked to recalls of food products from known pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella;
- 37 deaths directly linked to recalls of food products; and
- $227 million in economic and health related costs linked to recalls of food products.
The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, with strong support from MASSPIRG, 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.
“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 Cummings. “We must move away from the current reactive approach, where recalls happen after dangerous products have already made it into families’ kitchens, and focus on prevention. The Food Safety Modernization Act should be fully implemented and the Administration and Congress should not waste any more time in strengthening our food safety systems.”
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MASSPIRG the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being.
For more information visit http://www.masspirg.org
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