Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, commented in a recent editorial in regards to the need for Americans to eat for fresh fruits and vegetables, and how the recent food poisoning outbreaks are hindering that message.

“Contaminated foods kill about 5,000 Americans each year, and sicken another 76 million, according to the Centers for Disease Control,” says DeWall. “While the numbers seem enormous, what often isn’t counted is the cost to survivors, who sometimes suffer loss of kidney function, miscarriage, colitis or reactive arthritis after a bout of food poisoning. The liability costs of the recent spinach outbreak may well exceed $100 million, money that should have been invested in preventing the outbreak with more effective oversight of growers.”

She then outlined CSPI’s recommendations of several policy options that she feels would help plug gaps in the food safety system:

•    Congressional funding for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition to reflect the growing demands on the agency.
•    Improvements in food-safety conditions on the farm by designating one agency to promulgate regulations for and conduct inspections of America’s farms.
•    A modern food safety law to supplant the “current hodgepodge of laws”, some of which were enacted 100 years ago.
•    The creation of a single food-safety agency, with the authority to recall food from the market and to penalize companies that produce contaminated products.