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Consumer Groups Call for White House Action on Food Safety

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Eighteen months ago, the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act was passed into law, but Tuesday parts of that law are yet to be implemented. The White House Office of Management and Budget has missed at least three statutory deadlines to introduce new rules on the safety standards of imported foods and at-risk produce. Erik Olson, director of food programs at the Pew Health Group told ABC News the delay means Americans are still at risk from their food.
 
"Forty-eight million people get sick every year from contaminated food in the U.S. That's one in six Americans and unfortunately 3,000 people die. So this delay really has impact," he said.
 
President Obama's signing of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act over a year ago was the first overhaul of food safety in 70 years. On Tuesday, Olson joined with 10 consumer groups, which included Food and Water Watch and STOP Foodborne Illness, to urge the White House to adopt the regulations now.
 
"Nine out of ten American voters supported those three sets of rules -- import protection, package food protection and produce safety -- so it doesn't make a lot of sense to us to delay this any longer," Olson said.

Meanwhile, the White House budget office insists it is working on the food safety issue, the Chicago Tribune reports. But the office has yet to make known when new regulations would be implemented. For now, the FDA plans not to enforce any food safety requirements, adding to consumer worries.
 
"When I sit down to dinner with my family the last thing I want to worry about is whether that food is contaminated, and we can all do something about that by weighing in with the White House to ask that they get these rules out," Olsen said.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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