Bad eggs are in the news again with the recall this week of more than a quarter of a million of them from eight states because of Salmonella concerns. This recall is much smaller than the two massive recalls in August -- 550 million eggs in all -- but, to put it bluntly, one rotten egg in the food supply is one too many. At least 1,600 people fell ill in August.
And it isn't just eggs consumers need to worry about. In October, Texas health officials shut down a San Antonio-based produce and processing company after lab tests found Listeria in packaged celery products sold to hospitals, restaurants and schools. The investigation was begun after 10 people fell ill -- five of them died.
The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for food safety, but it needs more weapons in its arsenal to prevent contamination of the food we produce and eat. The laws regarding the FDA's food-safety responsibilities haven't been significantly updated in more than 70 years, according public-health and consumer-protection advocates. The FDA has a flawed inspection system and doesn't even have the authority to order a mandatory recall in contamination cases. It must first negotiate with the food producer. That's just plain dumb.
Congress can fix this, now. The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, passed more than a year ago by the House, has been stalled in the Senate, where small growers have waged a campaign to stop it. One big piece of misinformation the growers have pushed is that the act would shut down organic farms.
No such thing is in the bill, which has enjoyed bipartisan support, is supported by President Obama and is endorsed by public-safety experts. The bill is set to finally come up for a Senate vote around Nov. 17 during the lame-duck session. The Senate shouldn't delay any longer on this legislation.
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