Kennedy, Dodd Send Letter to HHS on Nestle Recall
Today, Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Christopher Dodd sent the following letter to Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius in regard to today's Nestle Corporation recall.
The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Sebelius,
We appreciate your efforts to address the safety of the nation's food supply and commend your leadership as part of the President's Food Safety Working Group. Your joint efforts with Secretary Vilsack are a major step toward greater coordination of the federal role in food safety. We would like to express our concern, however, about the urgent need to strengthen our nation's food safety system.
Just today, Nestle Corporation issued a voluntary recall of Toll House refrigerated cookie dough products, after FDA warned of the risk of contamination with E. coli bacteria. According to FDA, since March there have been sixty-six reports of illness in twenty-eight states and twenty-five people have been hospitalized. Thankfully, to date, no deaths have been reported.
Americans expect the food on their tables to be safe and not cause them to become ill or endanger their lives. Several recent high-profile food safety scandals have made Americans increasingly concerned about the safety of the nation's food supply. It is essential that our federal agencies take comprehensive and immediate action to assure Americans that the food they serve their families is safe and free from harmful contaminants.
As you know, each year 76 million people become sick, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die from foodborne illnesses caused by contamination. The majority of these cases are preventable through improved food safety systems. We encourage HHS to adopt a comprehensive approach that will create seamless coordination among the federal agencies, state, local, and international partners, who all have important roles in the nation's food safety system.
As members of Congress and lead (co-)sponsors of bipartisan food safety legislation, we want to work with you to improve the safety of the American food supply. In light of the recent outbreaks which threaten our communities, we look forward to the forthcoming recommendations of the Food Safety Working Group. Upon release of the recommendations, we will call a hearing of the HELP Committee to highlight the steps recommended to achieve a safe food supply for all Americans. We look forward to considering comprehensive food safety legislation as soon as the recommendations have been heard and reviewed.
We thank you for your leadership and your attention to these issues, and we welcome this opportunity to work together to improve our nation's food supply.
With respect and appreciation,
Edward M. Kennedy
Christopher J. Dodd