Consumer advocates push for tougher food standards

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(Photo: MGN Online)

DENVER — It seems like we’re hearing about one food recall after another lately. Experts say 1 in 6 Americans will get sick from contaminated food.  Now consumer advocates are calling for tougher standards.

There have been two major nationwide food recalls in the past month. Foster Farms chicken was pulled from shelves after being contaminated by Salmonella.  More than 300 people in 17 states ended up sick.

Listeria was found in Reser’s  ready-to-eat products just last week.

Yet Danny Katz of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, COPIRG, says recalls aren’t enough to protect our families.

“We think people are getting all too accustomed to headlines that talk about tainted food borne illness recalls,” Katz said.

A COPIRG study showed 38 people in Colorado have gotten sick from contaminated food over the past year, costing the state $1.1 million.

Katz said recalls are not enough to protect families.

“We need to be putting more attention and emphasis into preventing food borne illnesses rather than trying to catch up after we have identified them and try to warn consumers after the fact,” Katz said.

In 2011, Congress passed the Food Modernization Safety Act, which overhauled our food safety system for the first time in 70 years.

Katz said, unfortunately, the programs aren’t yet up and running.

“Unfortunately since it’s passed we haven’t seen a drop in the number of food borne illnesses,” he said.

Experts say there are things you can do to cut your chances of being exposed to contamination: Wash fruits and vegetables and sterilize knives, cooking utensils and countertops. Cook meat, poultry and fish thoroughly and never try to wash and eat recalled products.

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