By Maggie Mertens
A coalition of food safety researchers and advocates is throwing some new fuel on the fire in an effort to press Congress to pass a food safety bill. The question is whether there is enough appetite in Congress to pass two health bills this year.
First shot: Bring out the kids. Kids are most at risk for foodborne illness, according to a report by the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention. Half of reported foodborne illness occur in children, the majority in kids younger than 15. Some of the most dangerous pathogens hit kids younger than four the hardest.
Why? Kids are still developing, so they have weaker immune systems and smaller bodies. Not to mention they have less control over their diet than adults, says The Make Our Food Safe Coalition, a group of several public health and consumer organizations that advocate for safer food, including the CFI.
Second shot: Talk about serious health complications. CFI released a separate report on the long-term effects of different types of foodborne illness caused by the most common types of pathogens including E. coli and Salmonella. They want people to know that foodborne illness can cause more than just a stomachache. E. coli can cause kidney failure, neurological complications like mental retardation and diabetes, Tanya Roberts, co-author of the study, said today by teleconference.
A food safety bill already passed in the House earlier this summer, and advocates are hoping Senate action takes place in the next few weeks. A Senate committee is expected to mark up its bill on Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), who spoke at the teleconference today, plans to offer amendments to create stricter laws for food "smugglers" across international borders and more funding for FDA to trace food that ends up in American kitchens.