News Release

Food Safety Scares 2013: How FDA Delays are Putting American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Food

Foodborne Illness Racks up $22 million in Economic Costs in 2012 and 2013
For Immediate Release

Albuquerque, October 31 – Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put New Mexico lives at risk and cost the country $22 million in economic costs, according to a new report by NMPIRG Education Fund. Here in New Mexico in the last 12 months, 16 people were made sick from foodborne illnesses and the cost in New Mexico was $463,233. Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year. 

“While the FDA delays acting on rules to keep dangerous foods from coming to market, we’ve seen hundreds of food products recalled for causing sickness and in some cases death,” said Sean Foran, Program Director for NMPIRG Education Fund. “This year has already seen an increase in foodborne illness compared with 2012, with high-profile outbreaks of Cyclospora and antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, and it’s time for the FDA to do more to protect us from the contaminants that are putting American lives at risk.”

According to recall information compiled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), from October 2012 to October 2013 there were:

  • 1,494 foodborne Illnesses reported;
  • 335 hospitalizations due to foodborne illness;
  • 2 deaths;
  • 615  incidences of Salmonella linked to food products; and
  • 643 incidences of Cyclospora linked to food products.

“The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed by Congress to protect American families from the painful and costly burden of foodborne illnesses; now it’s time for the FDA to put this law to work to prevent people from getting sick, missing work or school,” said Foran.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, with strong support from the NMPIRG Education Fund, 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 Foran.   “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 should not waste any more time in strengthening our food safety systems.”

The report is available at http://www.nmpirgedfund.org/reports/nmf/food-safety-scares-2013

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NMPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation.

 

For more information visit http://www.nmpirgedfund.org

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