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Victims Want Senate Vote By Valentine’s

Victims of the Salmonella outbreak caused by the Peanut Corporation of America marked the anniversary of the tragedy by calling on the United States Senate to pass meaningful food safety legislation.

All are active in the Make Our Food Safe lobbying campaign by a coalition of consumer and food safety groups who are using the anniversary of the 2009 outbreak involving contaminated peanuts to pressure the Senate for action on food safety.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2749 last July with strong bipartisan support.  Then, last November the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Commission sent S. 510, a similar food safety reform bill, to the floor.

And there, it remains.  The Make Our Food Safe campaign is calling for a vote by the full Senate, final agreement between the House and Senate by a Conference Committee, and final approval by both bodies in time to present the President with a bill by Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th.

The bills before Congress would require more frequent inspections, require that food processors develop food safety plans, give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandatory recall authority, and shift the agency’s approach from reaction to prevention.

“Strong comprehensive FDA reform legislation is long overdue,” says Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.), a national group that advocates for victims of foodborne illness. “The Senate needs to act now to ensure FDA puts measures in place to spare more families the pain and suffering like what occurred in the PCA outbreak.”

The letter to Senators says: “Strong, comprehensive FDA food-safety reform legislation must be passed soon before more families have to experience the pain and suffering we have from deadly and debilitating foodborne illnesses–illnesses that could be prevented by S. 510.”

Among the signers of a Jan. 14th letter to the Senate is Louis Tousignant of Minneapolis, one of Clifford Frederick Tousignant’s sons.  Seventy-eight-year-old Clifford was one of the fatalities of outbreak.  Prior to his illness, he had only recently moved into an assisted living center and always enjoyed peanut butter as a nightly snack.

The Tousignant family is one of about a dozen clients of the Seattle law firm Marler Clark who signed the letter to the Senate. “Simply put, our clients became involved because they wanted to stop the cycle of manufacturers who poison and victims,” said the law firm’s managing partner, Bill Marler.

“I am proud that they became involved.  Some traveled to Washington D.C.  And many more took the time to write and speak out in favor of food safety legislation.”

The Senate has been engaged in a long and messy process over health care, causing other business like food safety reform to take a back seat.  The Make Our Food Safe campaign is now moving to step up pressure on the Senate so when health care is out of the way, S. 510 in line for a vote.

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    Sadly, the Make Our Food Safe coalition is using the pain and suffering of victims and their families and the funding of the multi-billion dollar Pew Charitable Trusts to press for passage of a bill that will NOT do what they represent that it will. Furthermore, they have not only misrepresented the present situation and the legislation, they have dissembled.
    And, you, Mr. Flynn, I challenge to do more than this parroting of the 1-14-10 press release that MOFS made via the subsidiary of one of the top 10 lobbying firms in Washington. Show us exactly how S 510 or HR 2749 would have made a difference in the outbreak due to the Peanut Corporation of America.
    Instead, both bills will restrict the availability of the healthiest food in America–food grown, processed and distributed locally for local people. The proposed legislation will also force most of the young people in my area (western NC) to give up their new careers of farming because they won’t be able to make a living working within its inappropriate constraints.
    And those of us, like me, who have committed years of our lives and much of our wealth to revive local, healthy food for local people while not making the minimum wage will probably have most everything we’ve worked for destroyed by legislation that will advance the industrial agriculture which is creating the problems.
    For the rest of the story of this legislation, please write me at healthyfoodcoalition@gmail.com.