Eric Schlosser, author of best-selling Fast Food Nation and co-producer of Oscar-nominated Food, Inc., penned an op-ed in last Sunday’s New York Times urging the Senate to move on pending food safety legislation.

Schlosser describes the public health impact of contaminated food. “[T]he number who are killed annually by something they ate is roughly the same as the number of Americans who’ve been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003,” he writes.

“Our food will never be perfectly safe–and yet if the Senate fails to pass the food safety legislation now awaiting a vote, tens of thousands of American children will become needlessly and sometimes fatally ill,” says Schlosser.

The pending FDA Food Safety Modernization Act continues to stall behind a slew of other legislative priorities as Senators work to iron out compromises on the final language of the managers package.  Approved unanimously by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in mid-November, several months after the House approved a similar measure, the legislation has not made its way to the floor for consideration.

“You’d think that a bill with such broad support, on a public health issue of such fundamental importance, would easily reach the floor of the Senate for a vote,” writes Schlosser. “But it has been languishing, stuck in some legislative limbo.”

Schlosser rightly notes that if Congress does not pass food safety legislation before the end of the session, a new session will start the process over next year.

“I’ve come to know families that were devastated by a food-borne illness,” adds Schlosser. “A great deal of harm, inflicted on some of the weakest members of society, can be avoided with a few simple reforms. Nobody should lose a child because the Senate lacks the will and the leadership to act.”