Everyone is a critic, but some are better than others.
Rep. Rosa Del Lauro, D-Conn., offers one example in her recent critique of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety efforts.
She issued a scathing statement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the findings of its investigation into last fall’s E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the Central Coast of California.(See The Packer’s coverage here and the FDA report here
DeLauro, chair of the Congressional Food Safety Caucus and a senior Democrat on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, was unsparing as usual:
“For all the Agency’s bluster on improving traceability, the FDA has done little to advance real actions that would prevent food outbreaks in the first place,” said DeLauro. “The FDA’s investigations into last year’s romaine lettuce recalls have confirmed what we already knew to be true: dirty irrigation water contaminates produce and makes people sick. The fact that people are dying and lives are being destroyed while the FDA caves to big corporate interests is unconscionable. FDA must take its own findings to heart and implement science-based standards to test irrigation water. Eight years after the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law, it is long past time these important rules went into effect—not delayed into the next decade. Enough is enough.”
The news release from her office continues:
Despite scientific evidence that contaminated agricultural irrigation water poses serious risks to produce safety, the FDA is continuing its proposal to delay implementation of the Produce Safety Rule’s testing requirements of agricultural water under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The original compliance date was set for 2018. However, under this policy FDA will not begin any enforcement of these rules until at least 2022.
TK: DeLauro writes that “FDA must take its own findings to heart and implement science-based standards to test irrigation water.” That is, of course, easier said than done. While perhaps not the silver bullet portrayed by DeLauro, the years that go by without enforceable standards for testing irrigation water leave the FDA open to more blistering attacks, in the wake of future outbreaks. In other words, expect more to come of all of the above.