FDA Food Safety Campaign too late to avoid personal injury to one infant and death of another from contaminated formula

The FDA has announced a new initiative to start a long overdue overhaul of the nation’s food safety system, while in the meantime, one infant has died and another was hospitalized from a rare infection that authorities are blaming on contaminated powdered food products.  Personal injuries from food are a growing problem in the U.S. if media reports are to be believed.

This sort of thing used to be the province of lesser developed nations.  But with the underfunding of FDA food safety regulators coupled with anti-safety tort reform laws that close the courthouse doors to families suffering personal injury from contaminated foods, we’ve seen more frequent reports of contaminated products finding their way onto store shelves.

The FDA announcement described a campaign to reshape its food inspection arm by increasing the number of inspectors in the field and updating software tools.  Still, the government is going to be hampered from any increased effort by the very real budget problems that exist at both state and federal levels.

So, in response to the nationwide problem of increased food contamination risk, the FDA has committed to hiring an additional 130 employees to conduct inspections and collect samples.  While this is a good start, clearly the tort system needs to find its own increased role in policing food safety, since a private sector solution isn’t hampered by governmental funding shortfalls or transient political priorities.

An example of the high stakes in food safety is found in a report that two New Mexico infants contracted rare infections that the Center for Disease Control and prevention said are associated with contaminated powdered formula products.  On infant died, the other remains hospitalized.

While the CDC says other environmental sources of the infection are possible, without a robust public and private safety system in place — meaning government inspectors on the public side and private investigators working in the tort system on the private side — we may never know the actual source of the infection.

Time to get pro-safety in this country.  The stakes are high.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.