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Peanut Poisoning Victims Still Waiting to be Served Food Safety Assurances

January 18, 2010

HARTFORD, Conn. - One year ago this week, Americans were scouring their pantries to clear out peanut products after salmonella-tainted peanut butter was linked to nine deaths and more than 700 illnesses, including about 10 people sickened in Connecticut. Promises were made at the time to strengthen food safety laws, but survivors of the outbreak are still waiting for action.

A group of survivors of that outbreak is sending a letter to Congress asking that the situation not be forgotten. Elizabeth McWilliams signed it; her two-year-old daughter battled the peanut illness, and she's been campaigning ever since for tougher food safety laws.

"I preach this to everybody. People really need to be accountable for this. Do not allow them to continue to ship out contaminated food which can kill Americans."

Pew Food Safety Campaign project director Sandra Eskin says no one should have to worry whether the food they eat and feed their families will make them sick.

"We don't want it to take another outbreak like the one we saw last year with peanut products to finally get the job done."

The Make Our Food Safe Coalition says that if tougher laws had been on the books before the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would likely have discovered a history of unsanitary conditions at the plant where the salmonella-tainted peanut butter originated.

Connecticut's Christopher Dodd is a co-sponsor of the Senate version of a food safety bill awaiting a vote.

More information is available at www.makeourfoodsafe.org

Deb Courson, Public News Service - CT