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.