"Consumer groups are hoping a new federal law will help shield the food chain from contaminants like the recent E. coli outbreak that sickened 60 people, including 23 in St. Louis County, and prompted a lawsuit.
Consumer groups had been working for more than a year to put pressure on Congress to pass the far-reaching Food Safety Modernization Act and fund the legislation. Now that funding is in place, the next step is to make sure FDA enforces the new law, says Sandra Eskin, project director for the Pew Charitable Trusts' Food Safety Campaign. It was one of the groups that encouraged Congress to pass the legislation, described as the most extensive rewrite of the nation's food law in several decades. She says the law could mean fewer outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.
'We're hopeful,' Eskin says. 'There are so many products like romaine lettuce that are not currently subject to uniform safety standards that are enforceable by the government. For the first time, we're going to have uniform standards for food safety.'"