Minneapolis, Minnesota (PRWEB) March 4, 2010
Through litigation and new laws, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the safety of American food. In the past several years, pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 have caused outbreaks associated with many types of food, including spinach, peanut butter, cookie dough, spices and meat. An estimated 76 million people annually become sick in these types of foodborne illness outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Frankly we’re having too many outbreaks; too many people are becoming sickened by foodborne illness, and I think we are long overdue in making some changes,” said food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker in an interview with Comcast Newsmakers. Those changes are hopefully on their way, he says, in the form of legislation coalescing into two major food safety bills—one in the U.S. House of Representatives that has already passed and one in the Senate that’s expected to be taken up some time during 2010. These bills, if passed, would constitute Congress’s first major food safety legislation in nearly 70 years.
Money, manpower and the implementation of comprehensive rules are some of the key elements Pritzker says legislators need to consider in their food safety reform efforts. The ability to trace pathogens back to the source of contamination is also essential, he says, as is the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to order a recall, which the agency currently can’t do. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill would grant the FDA the authority to recall contaminated foods, rather than relying on the food producer to voluntarily issue the recall, as well as increase the rate of inspection for food producers.
Lawsuits that hold food producers accountable for the safety of their products also play a part in shaping food safety policies and procedures, Pritzker says. “Just as product liability litigation made cars safer, litigation makes food safer,” Pritzker said. “Companies don’t want to risk liability.”
Fred Pritzker is founder and president of Pritzker Olsen Attorneys, one of the few law firms in the United States that practices extensively in the area of foodborne illness litigation. The firm has collected millions of dollars on behalf of victims of food poisoning. For more information, visit http://www.pritzkerlaw.com. To contact Fred Pritzker, call 612-338-0202. Pritzker Olsen has offices at Plaza VII Building, Suite 2950, 45 S. Seventh St., Minneapolis, MN 55402.