Make Our Food Safe
08/02/2013

"Food Safety Act Goes a Long Way Toward Protecting Colorado Consumers"

The Denver Post | Unoma Akamagwuna

"As a physician in Aurora training to care for children with injuries or illnesses that impact their ability to move, I am used to helping my patients recover from all sorts of ailments; spinal cord injury, cancer, and neurologic disorders. However, I was surprised to learn about another extraordinarily common health threat that may bring patients to my hospital: food-borne illness.

I learned this firsthand when I cared for a patient who, after falling ill with a food-borne infection, developed pockets of infection in his brain that required a prolonged hospital course to treat. After he finally recovered from his infection, the patient’s muscles were weakened and he required several additional weeks in the hospital under my team’s care to do things like relearn how to walk, get dressed, bathe and eat. Not only did my patient suffer debilitating illness as a result of his food-borne infection, his hospital stay was painful, costly, and importantly, preventable.

Unfortunately, one in six Americans each year is affected by a food-borne illness, with 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Children are not spared from this threat: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s FoodNet surveillance system indicate that rates of many food-borne infections are highest in children younger than 5 years old.

Thankfully, the federal government has taken steps to improve our food safety system by passing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but more work is needed. Crucial pieces of the law, to prevent the contamination of fruits and vegetables and to prevent food hazards, were not even proposed until earlier this year. Other important aspects of the law, such as ensuring the safety of imported foods, also have yet to be addressed."

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