Sen. Casey calls for action as salmonella outbreak reaches 20 states, including PA

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WASHINGTON —

Today, with a salmonella outbreak reaching 20 states, including Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Penn., called on the Office of Management and Budget to act on proposed food safety rules that are intended to protect consumers from foodborne illness.

"This latest salmonella outbreak should be a wake-up call for OMB that it's time to release these food safety rules," Casey said. "OMB has had more than enough time to consider these safety rules. It's time to get these rules out of the door for public comment and better protect Americans against these outbreaks."

New sets of rules for produce and imported foods such as seafood were supposed to be made public three months ago. Rules covering how small food-processors should keep food clean and uncontaminated are also pending.

The rules could lead to safer growing and treatment practices for foods that have been at the center of recent outbreaks, such as spinach and melons. Listeria in cantaloupes, for example, killed 30 people last fall.

In his letter, Senator Casey wrote, “OMB must take seriously its responsibility to promptly review the rules in order to improve food safety and allow FDA to direct its attention toward this issue in order to ensure that the American food supply is safe.”

The full text of Casey’s letter to OMB Acting Director Jeff Zients can be seen below:

 

The Honorable Jeff Zients

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

 

Dear Mr. Zients:

I urge the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to promptly review food safety rules submitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  OMB must take seriously its responsibility to promptly review the rules in order to improve food safety and allow FDA to direct its attention toward this issue in order to ensure that the American food supply is safe. The recent outbreaks of salmonella contamination demonstrate this is a serious issue.

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010 with food safety goals in mind; FDA developed new standards to improve the safety of America’s food supply, which the agency submitted to OMB for review several months ago.  OMB has yet to finalize its review. The FDA must be able to finalize these improved standards, making Americans safer and foodborne illness outbreaks less likely.

Unfortunately, one in six Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses every year, showing the necessity of strong efforts in the area of food safety. Americans should be able to expect a safe food supply. Clear and effective food safety standards are crucial.

I strongly encourage OMB to quickly and carefully review these standards so that we can better prevent further outbreaks. Thank you for your attention to this issue and I look forward to continuing to work with you.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator