Largest Egg Recall in History Exposes Cracks in Egg Oversight
Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal
August 19, 2010
It is truly ironic that the largest egg recall in history has unfolded just the month after long-awaited egg regulations went into effect. This outbreak will likely grow over the coming weeks, as at least 10 states are investigating outbreak clusters.
Jurisdiction over eggs has been scrambled between numerous government agencies for the last 20 years, resulting in enormous delays in addressing the hazard posed by Salmonella enteriditis, a pathogen that infects the ovaries of chickens, causing their eggs to be internally contaminated. Today, FDA claimed that it did not have jurisdiction to inspection this facility until last month when the egg regulation finally took effect.
This outbreak demonstrates the need for a food safety cop-on-the-beat. FDA needs a strong inspection force with the tools to mandate recalls, impose civil and criminal penalties, and require testing at farms and production facilities. The agency should be able to impose fines for violations when they find them, detain and recall food, and impose enhanced criminal penalties when companies intentionally violate the law, resulting in harm to the public.
The Senate should move immediately to pass S. 510 and Congress should move a bill that incorporates the strongest enforcement provision of each bill promptly to the President's desk for signature.