Call Congresswoman Lois Capps
An action alert from CREDO.
Representative Lois Capps, sits on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee. That committee will consider crucial food safety legislation on Wednesday. Let Representative Lois Capps know today that you expect her to stand with us.... her constituents — not big industrial food companies — when it comes to food safety.
Earlier this year, salmonella-tainted peanut butter from a single Georgia factory caused nine deaths, sickened over 600 people, led to the recall of thousands of products, and cost the food industry $1 billion in losses. Meanwhile, deadly E. coli outbreaks are on the rise. The USDA recalled a total of 300,000 pounds of contaminated ground beef during the month of May alone.
Thankfully, Congress is now paying attention. The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 represents a good basis for reform and would be first major update of food safety legislation in decades. But big food industry players are fighting tooth and nail to weaken the bill — it's up to us to tell Congress to strengthen and pass a bill that really protects our food supply.
The bill, while it does not go nearly far enough, is a good start. As currently written, it will increase funding for and frequency of food inspections by the and the USDA. The bill will expand the powers of the FDA, giving it — for the first time — the ability to order mandatory recalls. The bill will also assess on producers a $500 fee per "food facility," increase criminal and civil monetary penalties for food safety violations and enforce new product traceability guidelines.
The current bill remains dangerously weak in the area of prevention, which is fundamental to being able to stop outbreaks before they start. It allows up to three years between food facility inspections and does not force companies to actually test for pathogens.
At the same time, big food companies and the livestock industry are already insisting that the FDA's proposed new powers be weakened. They must not succeed. Now is the time to make sure Congress improves the legislation and resists the food industry's push to gut the law.
I hope you sign the petition, too.