Don’t Compromise Food Safety for Election-Year Politics

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Target: Jeffrey Zients, Acting Director for the Office of Management and Budget

Goal: Don’t compromise food safety standards by inexplicably delaying important legislation

With one in six Americans falling ill from foodborne illnesses each year, food safety is a critical issue. A major victory was passed when President Obama passed the Food Safety Modernization Act in January 2011, the first major overhaul in food safety legislation since the 1930s. But the changes have yet to go into effect because the act is languishing in bureaucracy, and some are blaming election-year politics. Political differences must be put aside for the urgent need to improve our country’s food safety.

The changes in food safety laws were meant to address food safety in imported and processed food as well as produce contamination. The need for produce safety reform was highlighted after Fall 2011’s listeria-tainted cantaloupe and the deadly E. coli outbreak in 2006 linked to fresh spinach. Another important regulation hanging in the balance requires a food safety plan in every facility.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent the regulations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in November and December of 2011, and the delay has been frustrating advocates for food safety, who claim that election-year politics are to blame. They point out that Democrats may be worried about giving the impression that government regulation is growing, which is a common attack of Republicans; however, the OMB defends that the regulations must undergo a lengthy review process. But Caroline DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest is skeptical, to say the least. “The OMB has more than enough time to look at these proposed regulations. The delay is just inexplicable,” she stated. All the while, Americans continue to be at risk for dangerous foodborne illness.

Food safety presents a serious threat to public health, and important legislation cannot afford to be held up in bureaucracy. Demand that the OMB completes its review process in a timely manner.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Zients,

You have been reviewing new food safety regulations since November and December of 2011, while the safety of our food supply hangs in the balance. One in six Americans suffers from foodborne illness each year, demonstrating the seriousness of this issue.

Some are blaming election-year politics, pointing out that Democrats may be worried about giving the impression that government regulation is growing, a common attack of Republicans. Your office defends that the regulations must undergo a lengthy review process. But Caroline DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest is skeptical. “The OMB has more than enough time to look at these proposed regulations. The delay is just inexplicable,” she stated. Whatever the reason, you must work to implement these changes as soon as possible. Our health depends on it.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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