Make Our Food Safe

Make Our Food Safe Coalition Asks Senators "What's Hiding in Your Lunch?"

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 10, 2009 – Today, victims of foodborne illness, their families, concerned parents of young children and members of the Make Our Food Safe coalition hand-delivered lunch bags that detail potential hazards in common lunch items to every member of the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., as well as several in-state Senate offices. Representing the 76 million Americans who are needlessly sickened each year from contaminated food, the concerned citizens and other coalition members are taking a stand to let Congress know Americans demand improved oversight of the food supply.

A landmark food safety bill passed the House of Representatives with broad bipartisan support this summer and now it’s up to the Senate to act.

“No one in America should have to worry if the food they eat and feed their families will make them sick,” said Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of S.T.O.P.-Safe Tables Our Priority and member of the Make Our Food Safe coalition. “Without immediate reform, outbreaks from contaminated FDA-regulated foods are sure to continue. When it comes to comprehensive food safety oversight, American consumers need reform now.”

The lunch bags contain critical information for senators about the risks American families face in eating everyday items such as lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and crackers. Each year, 325,000 Americans are unnecessarily sickened and hospitalized from consuming contaminated food and of those people 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet the FDA has no authority to mandate that food companies recall their products, even if tests have shown food to be contaminated with hazards like Salmonella. Continued outbreaks of food contamination over the last several years — from spinach to peppers to peanuts and pistachios — have demonstrated that the current food safety system in the U.S. is broken and in need of serious reform.

In addition to the victims and other food safety advocates who came to Capitol Hill, concerned citizens in Ohio, New Hampshire and North Carolina participated in similar local efforts, delivering the lunch bags to the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), George Voinovich (R-OH), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC).

Supporters like Randy Napier of Medina, Ohio, who lost his mother, Nellie, in January of this year to Salmonella infection caused by contaminated peanut butter. The Napier family, joined by other advocates from the Cleveland area, spent the morning delivering lunch bags to senate district offices.

“The FDA needs the authority to recall contaminated food and food companies need to know that if they do something wrong, there are serious consequences,” Randy Napier noted.

An interactive version of the lunch bag given to senators is available for viewing at www.makeourfoodsafe.org/sandwich.

Major public health, consumer and food safety groups have launched the Make Our Food Safe Campaign (www.makeourfoodsafe.org), including the American Public Health Association, Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Safe Tables Our Priority, and Trust for America’s Health.