NEW YORK – New York’s Junior Senator is pushing a plan to overhaul the nation’s food safety laws by improving inspection, recall response, and public education.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says a cornerstone of her new plan is new legislation to mandate E. coli inspections of ground beef.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year an estimated 87 million Americans are sickened by contaminated food, 371,000 are hospitalized with food-borne illness, and 5,700 die from food-related disease.
Gillibrand says while the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made some progress improving food safety regulations, the nation’s food safety laws have not been significantly overhauled in more than a century.
Across New York State, approximately 5 million people are afflicted with a food-borne illness each year.
Salmonella is the most common food-borne illness – causing over 1 million illnesses each year in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Another 70,000 in America fall victim to E. coli each year. From meat and poultry to peanut butter, fruits and vegetables, almost every type of food we eat each day has the potential for contamination because of outdated, insufficient safeguards and testing processes.
Responsibility for enforcing America’s food safety measures is shared by 15 federal agencies – with the FDA and USDA responsible for the bulk of the oversight.
However, Gillibrand says the Food and Drug Administration is often limited to reactive regulations once outbreaks have already begun instead of preventing contaminations from spreading, and risking the safety of our food and the health of millions.
The Senator’s plan to improve food safety aims to streamline and strengthen regulations at the USDA and FDA.
Gillibrand says her efforts will also alter the fundamental approach to food safety by focusing on prevention to catch food-borne illnesses, and more quickly preventing further illness when an outbreak is detected.