Legislation that will improve the nation's food safety is poised for a vote in the Senate, but it is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) to bring it to the floor for a vote.
More than three years ago, my daughter Rylee ate a spinach salad contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. She spent one month in the hospital, required dialysis, as well as several blood transfusions, and spent an additional two months at home recovering. As a mother and a consumer, I want to make sure the food I'm buying is safe, and that I'm protecting my family from unseen, preventable risks.
In Nevada, I know I'm not alone: Nearly half of the voters who participated in a recent poll1 commissioned by the Pew Health Group and conducted by Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies say they are worried about bacterial contamination, and the same percentage of voters say what they have seen and heard in the last year has made them less confident in the safety of food sold in the U.S.
Furthermore, an overwhelming 91 percent of Nevada voters2 polled support food safety legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities to ensure the food Americans eat does not make them sick.
Last month, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) was unanimously approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, and is now awaiting floor consideration. If enacted, S.510 would take a preventive approach to food safety at the FDA, requiring food facilities to develop preventive control programs to reduce the risk of contamination.
Today Rylee is in better health, but the long term consequences of her illness are still unknown. Doctors suggest that she will probably need at least two kidney transplants during her life as a result of the damaged caused by E. coli O157:H7. Her experience makes me very aware of the potential dangers in the food I feed her every day and I am really encouraged by the overall support for new safety measures.
On behalf of the concerned voters in Nevada, the American consumers at the mercy of the next outbreak, and the moms who care deeply about the safety of our nation's food supply, I encourage Sen. Reid (NV) to make food safety a major priority and to schedule before the end of this year a vote on this very important bill.
I volunteer for S.T.O.P. – an organization that supports foodborne illness victims - and I have listened to many families share their stories of watching their children or parents die because they ate spinach or peanut butter. As Americans we should not have to worry that the food we feed our families could make them sick, or even kill them.
The opinions here are the author's alone and do not represent the official policy for the entire Make Our Food Safe coalition.