Letter to the Editor: CSPI urges public to comment on FDA rule to speed outbreak investigations


Dear Editor,

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a new rule that will make it much easier to solve foodborne outbreaks – and they need your support. Click here to take action.

In 2018, the source of an E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce eluded investigators, who were delayed by poor recordkeeping in the food chain as a deadly outbreak swept across the country.

The crippled romaine investigation showed the limits of our food system: even in this era of big data and technology, we still can’t figure out from which farm a bag of lettuce came.

But a new food traceability rule proposed by the FDA is preparing to change all that. The rule covers certain foods, like romaine, that have caused outbreaks in the past, and would require everyone who handles those foods to keep the key information needed to trace the path of the food all the way back to the farm in the event of an outbreak.

The rule means that outbreaks will be solved faster and the FDA will not have to issue as many broad public warnings forcing millions of Americans to toss their lettuce and other fresh, healthy produce.

The rule will not only help solve outbreaks quickly, it will also help ensure effective recalls, preventing tainted food from being missed and left to linger on store shelves. And by getting to the root of the outbreak faster, the FDA will be better able to find the source of the contamination, key information that is useful for preventing the next outbreak.

But FDA needs your support.

Send the message in support of swifter foodborne outbreak investigations by taking action now.

Please join us in telling FDA you support reasonable traceability and record-keeping requirements to solve outbreaks quickly.

— Sarah Sorscher
Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs
Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

About CSPI: According to the group’s website, CSPI was founded in 1971 by then-executive director Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., and two other scientists. CSPI carved out a niche as the organized voice of the American public on nutrition, food safety, health and other issues during a boom of consumer and environmental protection awareness in the early 1970s. CSPI has long sought to educate the public, advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific evidence on health, and counter industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies.

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