At age 2, Kyle Allgood of Chubbuck, Idaho, became sickened by a deadly strain of E. coli O157:H7, from contaminated spinach. When Kyle's abdominal pains would not subside, he was flown to a Salt Lake City hospital, where his downward spiral ended in kidney failure, a heart attack and, ultimately, death.
The tragedy the Allgood family endured is far from rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, food-borne illness strikes tens of millions of Americans, hospitalizes hundreds of thousands and kills several thousand - mostly young children like Kyle, the elderly or others who are especially vulnerable. Despite these shocking numbers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - which regulates about 80 percent of the nation's food supply - does not require food companies, or the agency's own inspectors, to test products for bacteria. The FDA also has no authority to mandate that food companies recall products, or directly penalize those that violate the law.