In her introduction, Renee Montagne explained the recall was of "half a billion eggs."
Think about that.
Rosa DeLauro is a member of Congress who works on food safety. My apologies to DeLauro -- who I actually have some respect for (unlike most members of Congress) -- because I forgot about her. She was there on the spinach issue I remembered as NPR brought her on for this morning's segment. From NPR's report:
APRIL FULTON: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut is frustrated. She's been working for decades to address the holes she sees in the food safety system. It's a system that's been tested again and again by salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other bacteria that get into food and make millions of people sick every year.
Representative ROSA DELAURO (Democrat, Connecticut): You saw what happened with tomatoes, you saw what happened with lettuce, with peanuts, and now eggs.
FULTON: Just since May, government officials say there have been four times as many salmonella outbreaks detected as would normally be expected. DeLauro says this egg recall should set off alarms.
Rep. DELAURO: You've got over half a billion eggs recalled, 1,300 people are sick. We're not talking about roads, bridges, parks here. We are really talking about people's health.
FULTON: She says the Food and Drug Administration needs more authority and more power to take food off the market before there's a crisis. DeLauro is a key sponsor of a bill that passed the House of Representatives over a year ago. She says it might have helped prevent the egg recall from getting so big. The bill would give the FDA more inspectors and more power to examine producers' operations and records. It would also give the agency more power to quickly trace the source of a product suspected of causing illness, plus the power to force a recall.
For more on what's she things we need, I checked out her Congressional website and we'll note this:
|For Immediate Release |
Monday, August 23, 2010
|Contact: Kaelan Richards |
Click here for Printer Friendly Version
DELAURO QUESTIONS FDA AND USDA ON EXPANDING EGG RECALL
Sends letter to both asking for investigation into dangerous outbreak of salmonella
Washington , DC – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Chairwoman of the FDA and Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, sent a letter today to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Food and Drug Adminstration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking questions about the recent egg recall.
With more than half a billion eggs recalled and approximately 1,300 people sickened, Congresswoman DeLauro asks the USDA and FDA, which share jurisdiction in this area, about the investigation into the DeCoster farm's safety record and the oversight of its operations. She also inquires about the possibility of the tainted eggs being used by federal nutrition programs.
The text of the letter is below.
August 23, 2010
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Dear Mr. Secretary and Dr. Hamburg :
I am writing to determine what your respective agencies knew about the egg producer that reportedly is at the center of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened approximately 1,300 people. I am sure you are equally alarmed of the recent news reports that this particular egg producer has an extensive record of health and safety violations as well as a poor compliance record with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
As you may have seen in the report in the August 22, 2010 Washington Post , the list of allegations against the DeCoster operations is extensive. Workers were forced to handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands and to live in filthy trailers, state environmental laws were violated repeatedly, and the company failed to disclose its investment in egg operations in another state to avoid a background check. This pattern of regulatory non-compliance by the DeCoster operations should have served as a warning to regulators and warranted additional scrutiny of the company's ability to comply with food safety standards.
The extent of the outbreak, combined with the poor regulatory compliance record of this egg producer, leads to questions about what could have been done to prevent it. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the lead agency for this investigation, jurisdiction over ensuring the safety of eggs covers both agencies, therefore the following questions are directed to FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
• What did FDA and USDA know about the DeCoster operations before the current recall? Were both agencies aware of its poor compliance record with other regulatory agencies?
• During FDA's investigation, agency officials have stated that the new egg rule that went into effect last month could have prevented this outbreak. While I agree with this assertion, I would like to know what FDA knew about how the DeCoster operation was implementing the new rule. A recent report in Food Chemical News included a comment attributed to an FDA official that contended the DeCoster facility was doing a good job implementing the new rule. How was this FDA official able to determine that the facility was adequately implementing the new rule? Before this current recall, when did the FDA last visit the DeCoster operations?
• Were graders from USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) ever present at the DeCoster operations? If so, what did they know about the facility's conditions?
• I am concerned that recalled eggs could have been sold to a processor that may have sold the products to the federal nutrition programs. Has the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA investigated whether DeCoster-supplied eggs that eventually became egg products were sold to the federal nutrition programs?
• Are you aware whether any egg processing plants that are regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) received contaminated eggs from the DeCoster operations?
• Are FDA and USDA aware of what state regulators knew about the food safety record at the DeCoster facility?
Thank you very much for your prompt attention and response to these questions. I recognize that both of you are fully committed to finding the source of this salmonella outbreak and to protecting the public health. I intend to closely monitor this ongoing investigation and I look forward to working with you to ensure the safety of our food supply.
Again, my apologies for forgetting DeLauro. I will further add that she worked -- very strongly -- with one of my state's Congress members, Bill Delahunt on attempting to get the White House to put the SOFA before the Congress. That's what should have happened and the two of them were fighting for the Constitution and for the Congress. I'm very sad that Bill Delahunt is leaving the Congress because he was one of my state's most reliable members. We have and have had many flashy members (Ted Kennedy) but we've had few workhorses that we could count on. Bill Delahunt was a workhorse for the people. You don't -- or I don't -- often get the feeling that the people really matter to members of Congress except for votes and donations. With Delahunt, I never doubted that he saw representing the public as an honor -- and one he took very seriously.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Wednesday: