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Blumenthal & Durbin Request Investigation of FDA's Efforts to Protect the Nation's Food Supply & Prevent Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness

Every year, 48 million Americans get sick and 128,000 are hospitalized with a foodborne illness

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) wrote to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting a review of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) efforts to address and prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. While the FDA has finalized nine major rules to help implement the Food Safety Modernization Act since it was signed into law in 2011, the senators expressed the importance of ensuring the agency helps farmers, food manufacturers, importers, and others prevent contamination from production to sale. 

“We remain concerned that FDA’s oversight of our nation’s food supply continues to be inadequate to protect Americans from preventable foodborne illness outbreaks,” Blumenthal and Durbin wrote to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. “It is clear from recent events, like the infant formula crisis, there are serious deficiencies that have prevented the agency from acting quickly to address food safety issues.”

In addition to the infant formula crisis, Blumenthal and Durbin described the danger that contamination and foodborne illnesses pose to the public. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year nearly 1 in 6 Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of foodborne illness.  The senators also cited an independent investigation by the Reagan-Udall Foundation which highlighted issues with the FDA’s, “organizational culture, leadership structure, access to resources, and regulatory authorities.”

Given these concerns, Blumenthal and Durbin requested the GAO undertake a review of the FDA’s efforts to effectively implement the Food Safety Modernization Act and reduce the prevalence of foodborne illnesses.

“All of us have an interest in ensuring the food we eat is as safe as possible, and we are committed to working to ensure all Americans have access to safe and accessible food supplies,” the senators wrote. “More than a decade after FSMA was enacted, it is important to ensure FDA has the resources and authority necessary to carry out its vital mission of protecting our nation’s food supply.”

Text of the letter can be found here.