More than 20 victims of foodborne illnesses gathered in Washington DC to call for better consumer protection.
According to the Make Our Food Safe Campaign, some 5,000 Americans die annually from food-related illness, but the food safety system is based on laws enacted in 1906 that are outdated and fail to protect food supply.
"These victims, their families and their stories must serve as the final wake-up call," said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations.
She added, "We must act now to make it happen, transform the FDA, and begin a new movement that puts public health first."
DeLauro has introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act to separate food safety regulation from drug and device approvals.
Meanwhile, major consumer and food safety groups have launched the Make Our Food Safe Campaign to push for reforms of the nation’s food regulatory system.
It calls for risk-based inspections, science-based standards for foods and requirements that food companies test for harmful contaminants and report any result showing contamination to the government.
Steps to ensure that imported food products meet safety standards, enhanced enforcement tools, like mandatory recall authority, and structural changes in HHS are also among the campaign’s demands.