For Immediate Release: December 1, 2008
TFAH Statement: FDA Food Protection Plan Insufficient
Washington, D.C. - The following is a statement from Jeff Levi, PhD, Executive Director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH) in response to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) progress report on the Food Protection Plan:
"The nation lacks a real plan for food protection. The staff at the FDA should be commended for moving forward with some key initiatives to improve food safety, but they can only achieve limited success without the resources and multiyear planning to fundamentally fix the food safety system. America's food safety system has not been seriously upgraded in more than 100 years, and too many Americans get sick each year from preventable foodborne illnesses.
"We need a major overhaul matched by major investments to achieve the level of change needed. The FDA should articulate to Congress and the American people what resources are needed over the long-term to achieve the goals and define milestones for how to measure success. As part of the transition to an Obama administration, we hope that the FDA will develop a more comprehensive plan for a modernized food safety system."
Approximately 76 million Americans -- one in four -- are sickened by foodborne diseases each year. Of these, an estimated 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. Medical costs and lost productivity due to foodborne illnesses in the U.S. are estimated to cost $44 billion annually.
TFAH released a report, Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America's Food Supply from Farm-to-Fork, earlier in 2008 identifying major gaps in the nation's food safety system, including obsolete laws, misallocation of resources, and inconsistencies among major food safety agencies. The full report and Dr. Levi's congressional testimony on the Food Protection Plan are available on TFAH's Web site at www.healthyamericans.org.
Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.