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We urge government officials and farms to reconsider food safety measures after the recall of a half-billion eggs and the salmonella poisoning of over 1,300 Americans. And it is time for Congress to act on pending legislation that would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to protect the public.
Earlier this month, Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa issued a voluntary recall of 380 million eggs on its five farms. Shortly thereafter, the FDA and the State of Minnesota identified Hillandale Farms in Iowa as a second source of contamination. Some 550 million eggs were recalled overall.
As the agencies investigate, many are calling for government reform on several fronts.
First, there is the problem of government oversight. The FDA has authority over shelled eggs sold in the grocery store. Yet the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has jurisdiction over chickens and any eggs cracked before shipping. Individual states also have inspection power of farms.
These agencies may have contradicting priorities and problems with coordination. In the case of Wright County Egg, the agencies lacked any knowledge of the others’ work.
A CBS News report shows state inspectors visited one of Wright County Egg’s sites in April, without reporting on 27 key inspection points, including questions about on-site birds, insects and rodents.
The report explains the state inspector saw no need because the farm was assigned a full-time USDA inspector. But the USDA claims its inspector was only responsible for measuring eggs and finding cracked shells.
“When you have multiple agencies in charge of a single issue, sometimes no one’s in charge,” Caroline Smith Dewall, Director of Food Safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told CBS News. Click here to watch the CBS News video.
Another troubling point CBS News uncovered was the frequency of inspections. Shockingly, records obtained by the news outlet show the FDA has not inspected 56 percent of the nation’s food production facilities and farms in the past five years.
Consumers deserve better protection. The legislation that would address these issues is stalled in Congress. The legislation would increase the frequency of inspections and provide the FDA greater authority over food production sites.
The House passed a bill, but it has remained stalled in the Senate despite widespread, bipartisan support. The bill is essential so the Obama administration can continue to revise food safety regulations, including regulations that would improve the safety of egg production.
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck support this legislation and encourage you to contact your United States Senator to urge the bill’s passage.
U.S. Senator Scott Brown
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4543
U.S. Senator John Kerry
218 Russell Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2742