Salmonella in Peanut Butter?!

Eight people have died, hundreds have become sick, and millions more are at risk -- from peanut butter! Coming on the heels of jalapeno, spinach and pet food recalls, we need to prevent contamination at the source.

King Nut and Parnell's Pride peanut butter, produced in a single Georgia factory, were found to be contaminated with a potentially deadly strain of salmonella and are now being recalled nationwide.

These brands, not sold in supermarkets, are widely used in nursing homes, schools, hospitals and other institutions that care for our most vulnerable family members. The plant also produces a paste used in Keebler peanut butter cookies and more than 100 other popular snacks.

Today, we underfund prevention and then spend millions to try and recall food already distributed across the nation.  This makes no sense. We must ensure regular and appropriate inspection of production facilities, and efficient tracking once food has been distributed. This means a major overhaul of the FDA's food safety program.

Tell Congress that we need a major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration! 

Subject: Peanut butter recall -- fix our food safety system!

Dear [Decision Maker],

With the recent outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter now added to the long list of unsafe and deadly food recalls in our nation, I urge you to consider implementing real food safety reforms and to pass comprehensive legislation overhauling the Food and Drug Administration now.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the safety of most of the food we eat -- both food imported from countries like China, as well as food produced here in the U.S. But the FDA is failing to protect consumers, and needs significant reform as well as more money and authority to get the job done.

The House and the Senate must fix our broken food safety system. We shouldn't be afraid that the food we buy each day may sicken or even kill us.

Any food safety legislation that Congress passes should contain the following provisions:

--Traceability system for high-risk produce and production and handling standards.

-- Sufficient funding so the FDA can do its job and fulfill its safety mission. Since 2004 the agency has lost nearly a third of its food safety and field staff.

-- More inspections of food imports and mandatory certification to insure these foods meet US standards. Currently, less than 1 percent of food is inspected by the FDA; that's clearly not enough.

-- Regular, mandatory FDA inspection of all food production facilities, both foreign and domestic. Currently FDA inspects US production facilities once every 10 years on average, and foreign facilities even less frequently.

-- Labeling of new and controversial food technologies on our shelves, such as cloned food, genetically engineered food and nanotech ingredients. Consumers should be allowed to make informed choices when they're buying food for their families.

-- Mandatory recall authority for FDA and mandatory identification of outlets that sell recalled food. There is no federal requirement to publicize the names of grocery stores, restaurants, nursing homes and schools that might be selling or using recalled food like peanut butter, leaving consumers at a loss to protect themselves.

The recent salmonella outbreak in peanut butter has killed eight people and made over 500 ill, and the cases are still growing.

[Your Comments]

Mealtime should not be a game of chance. Please enact strong food safety legislation as soon as possible that includes the protections outlined above. Thank you.


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