Lawyer, Fred Pritzker, is calling for increased inspections of fish imports in the wake of emerging evidence that a massive U.S. Salmonella Bareilly outbreak may be linked to a single tuna processing facility in India.
The Food and Drug Administration has increased the number of foreign site inspections in recent years and also is responsible for inspections of seafood importers, but Congressional funding to the agency has not kept up with mandates for more food safety inspectors abroad and at our own borders, according to Pritzker.
“This outbreak provides further evidence that our national commitment to food safety inspections leaves much to be desired,’’ says Pritzker, founder of PritzkerOlsen, P.A., a national Salmonella litigation law firm.
Pritzker will be representing victims in the current Salmonella Bareilly outbreak that has sickened more than 116 people in 20 states. And based on federal projections, several thousand more people have been sickened without having their cases confirmed through lab testing. Confirmed cases of Salmonella Bareilly have been reported in the following states:
Alabama (2), Arkansas (1), Connecticut (5), District of Columbia (2), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (10), Louisiana (2), Maryland (11), Massachusetts (8), Mississippi (1), Missouri (2), New Jersey (7), New York (24), North Carolina (2), Pennsylvania (5), Rhode Island (5), South Carolina (3), Texas (3), Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (12).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said the likely source of the outbreak is raw yellowfin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, from Moon Marine USA Corporation of Cupertino, California.
A tuna recall was initiated and the focus now is determining how the fish became contaminated in the first place. The tuna Salmonella traceback investigation has centered on India, the CDC has said in its April 13, 2012 outbreak update.
“This is another example of our inability or unwillingness to monitor foreign food production facilities. It is also another example of not having stringent trace-back systems in place. This product, bits of fish flesh scraped from bones, passed through the hands of many distributors and processors which delayed identification of the outbreak and will make it much more difficult to know how the product was handled,” Pritzker says.
The FDA’s seafood safety oversight authority was recently expanded by the Food Safety Modernization Act, the first major overhaul of food safety law in more than 70 years. But increased inspection activities called for in the law can’t be met without more funding from Congress. In fact, some in Congress want to cut the FDA’s budget for Fiscal 2013.
“Global food trading is increasing and we must increase inspections of these imports to protect people from impure products that carry the risk of deadly disease,’’ Pritzker said.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., represents individuals and families nationwide in personal injury and wrongful death. Mr. Pritzker can be reached at 1-888-377-8900.