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Survivors of Tainted Peanut Products Still Pushing for Food Safety

January 18, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A year ago, many of us were throwing out cookies, ice cream, crackers, and jars of peanut butter because of a salmonella outbreak linked to peanut products. Nine people died from the bacterial infection, and more than 700 got sick, including two in Wyoming. Promises were made for quick action to require regular food plant inspections and faster product recalls, but there are no new laws on the books yet.

A group of survivors of that outbreak is sending a letter to Congress asking that food safety 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 originated.

Wyoming's U.S. Senator Mike Enzi is a co-sponsor of a measure to improve food safety laws. The House has passed such a bill but the Senate version still awaits action.

More information is available at www.makeourfoodsafe.org

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY