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Last week, Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced a plan to update the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which, according to the American Association for Justice, “would help ensure the safety of the nation’s food, drugs, medical devices and cosmetics and help restore confidence in the safety of the nation’s products.”

The Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act, if approved, would impose registration fees on processing plants to help fund food safety initiatives, would increase the frequency of manufacturing facility inspections to once every four years, would raise the penalties for noncompliance with FDA regulations, and would ensure more widespread safety-testing of imported food products. It would also give the FDA greater authority to recall products it deems potentially harmful to consumers.

Last week, we learned that peanut producers deliberately put consumers at risk by knowingly allowing salmonella-tainted peanut butter to leave their facilities for store shelves all across the country. The resulting salmonella outbreak has already killed at least eight people and sickened hundreds of others. According to the AAJ, the proposed FDA Globalization Act would not only decrease the potential for these kinds of incidents to occur, but would allow for increased accountability for the guilty parties—by ensuring that consumers injured by tainted food maintain their rights to pursue compensation through the courts.

“With the onslaught of reports of contaminated spinach, tomatoes, beef, pet food, and now peanut butter, it is clear increased funding and authority is needed at the FDA like Congressman Dingell’s legislation provides,” said Bill Marler, a food safety attorney and member of the American Association for Justice’s Foodborne Illness Litigation Group.

“However, the revelation the peanut manufacturer responsible for the salmonella outbreak knowingly endangered consumers by selling product they knew was harmful shows why FDA enforcement is not enough,” added Marler. “The increased inspections and civil justice penalties provided by this legislation go hand-in-hand with the right to hold wrongdoers accountable for the food they sell and profit from,” added Marler. “We are glad Congressman Dingell included language to protect the right of consumers to seek justice on these issues in the court system.”-AAJ

It would benefit all of us to throw our support behind the FDA Globalization Act.

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