September 21, 2019

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Criticizes FDA Delay of Produce Safety Rule

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), has released a statement criticizing the FDA on the delay of some parts of the Produce Safety Rule  following the deadly romaine lettuce E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that occurred late last year. The FDA released the findings of its investigation last week.

FDA delay produce safety rule

And that was not the only E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce last year. Another was announced in summer 2018. Together, those outbreaks caused 272 illnesses, 121 hospitalizations, and five deaths.

Her statement reads, “For all the Agency’s bluster on improving traceability, the FDA has done little to advance real actions that would prevent food outbreaks in the first place. The FDA’s investigations into last year’s romaine lettuce recalls have confirmed what we already knew to be true: dirty irrigation water contaminates produce and makes people sick. The fact that people are dying and lives are being destroyed while the FDA caves to big corporate interests is unconscionable. FDA must take its own findings to heart and implement science-based standards to test irrigation water. Eight years after the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law, it is long past time these important rules went into effect—not delayed into the next decade. Enough is enough.”

While the FDA did find the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in sediment in a pond on one farm in California for the second outbreak, and in agricultural water used by three farms for the first outbreak, the agency has proposed a delay into implementation of the Produce Safety Rule’s testing requirements of agricultural water under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011. That rule, which was supposed to go into effect last year, will now not be enforced until 2022 at the earliest.

Scientific evidence proves that contaminated agricultural irrigation water poses serious risks for produce safety.

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