This week is the one year anniversary of the PCA outbreak when Salmonella- contaminated peanut products caused a major, multi-state foodborne-illness outbreak -- an outbreak that occurred as a result of outdated and ineffective regulation and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nine people died, over 700 were sickened, and close to 3900 products containing peanuts or peanut paste were recalled. Many people lost mothers, fathers, and other close relatives; others had children or other family members who fell ill, or were sickened themselves. Outraged Congressmen and Senators convened hearings, during which they promised to implement meaningful food safety reforms. Despite, the immediate action, concern and bustle of activity, we are still waiting for Congress to enact FDA food safety legislation containing the types of provisions that would have prevented the PCA outbreak.
While the tragedy of 9 deaths and hundreds of illnesses is devastating in and of itself, the massiveness of the PCA outbreak created a life of its own. Contaminated peanut products touched the lives of nearly every American a year ago. You couldn’t go to the gym and eat your favorite protein bar because it had peanut paste in it, you couldn’t make a simple peanut butter sandwich for yourself or your kids, you had to think twice about what snacks to buy at the grocery store because so many of them contain peanut products. To still be waiting on a solution one year later is preposterous.
Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.) along with our coalition partners is sending a letter to Congress today signed by almost 60 victims and family members who were directly affected by the PCA outbreak to urge movement by Senate leadership and ask that S. 510—the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act be scheduled for a floor vote, finalized by a conference committee, and presented to President Obama for signature before Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Even though many people were lucky enough to not become ill from the outbreak, it still affected all of us.
Contact your Senator to push the Senate to schedule S. 510 for a floor vote. And remember, for to keep up to date on information about food recalls and outbreak, sign up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts, delivered right to your email inbox.