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Diane E. Brown,
Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Foodborne Illness Racks up $22 million in Economic Costs in 2012 and 2013

For Immediate Release

According to a new study by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delays in implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act have put lives at risk at a cost of $1,363,353 in Arizona. Contaminated food makes 48 million Americans sick every year. 

“While the FDA delays acting on rules to keep dangerous foods from coming to market, we have seen hundreds of food products recalled for causing sickness and in some cases death,” said Diane E. Brown, Executive Director for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. “This year has already seen an increase in foodborne illness compared with 2012, with high-profile outbreaks of Cyclospora and antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, and it is time for the FDA to do more to protect us from the contaminants that are putting American lives at risk.”

According to recall information compiled by the FDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), from October 2012 to October 2013 there were:

  • 1,494 foodborne Illnesses reported;
  • 335 hospitalizations due to foodborne illness;
  • 615  incidences of Salmonella linked to food products; and
  • 643 incidences of Cyclospora linked to food products.

The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in January 2011, with strong support from Arizona PIRG, consumer groups and public health groups. The law was designed to give the FDA new tools and new powers to protect consumers. However, the Act is still not being fully implemented and our foods remain unsafe.

“We need a food safety system that is fully funded and fully staffed so it can stop unsafe food from reaching our dinner tables,” said Brown. “We must move away from the current reactive approach, where recalls happen after dangerous products have already made it into families’ kitchens, and focus on prevention. The Food Safety Modernization Act should be fully implemented and the Administration should not waste any more time in strengthening our food safety systems.”

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