According to a press release obtained by Food Poisoning Bulletin, on April 18, 2012, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to implement proposed but unenacted food safety rules in light of the Salmonella Bareilly outbreak that has sickened 141 people in 20 states.
Senator Casey said, “This latest salmonella outbreak should be a wakeup call for OMB that it’s time to release these food safety rules. 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.”
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 mandated new rules for preventive controls on food imports, food and animal feed, and produce safety. These four rules are being delayed by the OMB, which is reviewing them. These rules should have been released to the public three months ago; they were due on January 4, 2012. The raw Nakaochi Scrape tuna that was recalled in the latest outbreak was imported from India.
Members of the Consumer Federation of America released a statement last month urging the Obama Administration to release the proposals. Chris Waldrop of CFA’s Policy Institute said, “The longer these proposals are delayed, the longer it will take to fulfill the promise of the Food Safety Modernization Act.”
And on April 19, 2012, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, called on the OMB to release those rules. In a statement, Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives said, “the deadline for issuing the new rules was this past January. We don’t want food safety reform halted in its tracks.”
Dr. David Love, Project Director of Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future told Food Poisoning Bulletin that “U.S. inspectors test a fraction of seafood imports at the port of entry. The FDA needs the resources to hire more inspectors and conduct more domestic and overseas inspections.”
You can see the full text of Casey’s letter to OMB Acting Director Jeff Zients on the Senator’s website.