In February 2013, Randy Napier delivered the following testimony at a public meeting held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Washington, DC. The meeting was one of a series organized to receive comments on rules that FDA is proposing to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA.
My name is Randy Napier, currently of Raleigh, NC. My mother Nellie, from Medina, OH, died as a result of peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella. Her death in 2009, shortly after our family gathered to celebrate her 80th birthday, however, does not define her life. My mom was a grandmother of 13 and a great-grandmother of 11. Everyone who knew her loved her for the way she lived life to the fullest. I never imagined that someone so full of energy — let alone my mother — could be taken from us because of something she ate. But that's exactly what happened. I sat with my brothers and sister and watched her — the woman who raised six children on her own with a meager, but hard-earned, income — die a slow and painful death.
As just one of far too many people whose lives have been forever changed by this needless risk, I want to commend the FDA for the release of the draft rules on produce safety and on preventive controls for human food, and for this opportunity to comment. One point I want to stress is the need for FDA to require testing – of products or of the production environment – when appropriate. Testing has an important role to play in ensuring that the systems put in place by food processors to ensure food safety are actually doing that. I will leave the details on what and how to test and when to the experts in the room.
I believe that these regulations are designed to prevent outbreaks like the one that killed my mom. During the legislative battle to pass FSMA, I told myself and others that before I could fully finish grieving my mother's death, safeguards needed to be in place to end the type of suffering that my family experienced from losing a loved one. It is in her memory that I'm calling for the prompt finalization of these proposed rules as well as the ones that deal with imported foods and for the full implementation and strong enforcement of a vitally important law.