02/15/2009 - The deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a Georgia peanut company is having an unexpected effect: It’s forcing lawmakers — finally, critics say — to improve food-safety regulations that in some cases haven’t been updated in a century.
“How many more times do they need to hear the same story that the system is broken?” asked Jim O’Hara, a former FDA official who is director of the Produce Safety Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts. The sheer size of the latest salmonella outbreak and the number of sick and dead — nine deaths have been connected to the outbreak; 637 have fallen ill —underscores the urgency for new regulations, O’Hara said.
“The human cost has become so visible and undeniable that I think we may finally get the action the broken system has deserved for more than a decade now,” he said.
Previous attempts to overhaul food safety rules wilted amid budget cutbacks, the complexity and breadth of the food industry and partisan politics, O’Hara and others said.
Read the full article Officials Driven to Take Closer Look at Food Safety on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Web site.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information visit the Produce Safety Project's Web site, or visit the Produce Safety Project on PewHealth.org.