My father was a World War II veteran, double Purple Heart recipient, avid sports fan, and all-American hero. Tragically, it was a cantaloupe laced with the lethal bacteria Listeria that ultimately killed him. Always true to form, though, he did not go down without a fight. For nearly three months, my father suffered from brain trauma and inability to move his legs. After the painful effects of the Listeria took hold first of his body and then his brain, the infection finally defeated him. My dad left behind five children, nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren – all who continue to mourn the loss. Unfortunately, there were 32 other Americans who also died last year from Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado’s Jensen Farms. The tragedies were widely publicized and the sympathy widespread. Family, friends and others grieved with us over my father’s – and so many others’ – untimely deaths, and politicians promised they would do more to prevent foodborne illness. You would think we may have learned something from this heartbreaking event, but the truth is nothing has changed. In January 2011, President Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. The first major overhaul of the nation’s food safety regulations in about 70 years, however, remains stuck at the White House Office of Management and Budget, where proposed regulations have been delayed for more than eight months. Meanwhile, three ongoing foodborne outbreaks that sprung up in the last two months alone have been responsible for killing six, sickening more than 400, and hospitalizing nearly 150 Americans to date. For instance, in my home state of Missouri people are being affected once again. So far, 15 Missourians have fallen ill after eating cantaloupe contaminated with Salmonella traced back to a farm in Indiana. The latest Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter has sickened 30 people thus far, including one in Missouri. What’s more, about 100 products that contain peanut butter are currently being recalled to prevent further illness. These outbreaks only represent a small part of those individuals affected by food-borne illness each year. An estimated 48 million Americans – or one in six – suffer from food-borne illnesses annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three thousand of these people will die each year, and many more will be hospitalized as a result. If implemented, the food safety law would put stronger protections in place to prevent foodborne illnesses from killing innocent people like my father. By introducing new, more stringent regulations for processed foods, like peanut butter; for imported foods; and for growing and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables, the law would serve as a safeguard for susceptible Americans. Most significantly, the law would change our nation’s approach to food safety from a reactive system to a preventive one. Since Food Safety Modernization Act was signed, at least 14 multi-state food-borne outbreaks have swept the country. Millions of Americans will continue to get sick, thousands will be hospitalized, and many more will die while we wait for food safety rules to be implemented. So, my message to the White House is clear: Let’s release the food safety rules now before more lives are lost and more families suffer unnecessarily.

  • Larry Andrew

    Probably waiting until the election is over.  Seems to be all about politics these days….but wait, maybe its always been all about politics.

  • ethanspapa

     What a terrible tragedy to a warrior hero.  A loyal husband, Father, Grandfather and Great Grandfather.
    Our Politicians never work for us anymore . Now they just hate each other. Stop practical laws from being passed,
     to protect the good citizens.
    The reason it sits in  a subcommittee is money and hate. As the lobbyists peruse through the halls of Congress with wads of cash in their pockets with all the political hacks waiting with their hands out.
    I suggest a great movie that is about to come out. Called Lincoln. It will remind you of your Dad and the hypocrisy that permeates through  Washington D.C. today.

  • ethanspapa

    It’s called doing the right thing.  Unfortunately the bill sits in committee because of lobbyists doling out cash and saving company’s a few dollars, in processing the fruit and vegetables they produce and ship properly. Instead they will risk lives and pay out  large civil suit awards and government fines when caught and prosecuted.  (:0((