In the news

Philadelphia Business Journal
John George

The U.S. Senate’s handling of food safety protections was called into question Wednesday in a study released by PennPIRG, the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The study found that since July 2009, the United States has had 85 recalls involving 153 food companies — including last month’s nationwide recall of half a billion eggs.

The report found 56 recalls, caused by contamination from salmonella and other bacteria related to food borne illness, have occurred in Pennsylvania in the last 14 months. Examples include a lettuce recall in May and a tuna recall in June. The study found food was already on store shelves and on kitchen tables across the state when the lettuce and tuna recalls were announced.

“Too many of us heard about the egg recall as we sat down to breakfast and had to wonder where the omelet on our plate came from,” said Alana Miller, program associate at PennPIRG, a Philadelphia public interest research group.

Miller noted the House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act in July 2009, but the Senate has yet to vote on the legislation. The measure would provide the Food and Drug Administration with more authority and resources for food safeguards through steps that include mandatory inspection frequency, stronger traceback provisions, and mandatory recall authority.

“The FDA needs the authority and the resources to better prevent pathogenic bacteria from entering the food chain, as well as to detect and eliminate pathogens more rapidly if they are found,” said Dr. Jennifer Quinlan, a food microbiologist from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

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