On Tuesday, December 11, The Pew Charitable Trusts delivered a petition signed by nearly 35,000 Americans to the White House, urging President Obama to release the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules.
The first major update to the nation’s food safety system since the Great Depression, FSMA signaled a much-needed shift in FDA’s approach from reaction to prevention.
Once fully implemented, the law is designed to reduce the number of people needlessly put at risk because of foodborne illness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year an estimated 48 million foodborne illnesses, 127,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths result from food contamination. These sometimes life-threatening sicknesses are estimated to total more than $70 billion a year in health-related costs.
Since the law was signed by the president, there have been 15 reported multistate outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated products. The deadliest from Salmonella linked to cantaloupe, killed 33, the third largest food-related death toll in U.S. history.
Meanwhile, key provisions of the law, designed to prevent outbreaks such as these, are stuck in regulatory limbo while Americans continue to get sick from preventable foodborne diseases.
Download the letter (PDF)