DeLauro, Slaughter Probe Failure to Protect Public by CDC, USDA on Salmonella Heidelberg Outbreak
WASHINGTON, DC—Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) today questioned the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on their dealings on the recent Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak. Over 400 people have been sickened since 2012 by Foster Farms chicken that has been linked to the outbreak.
In separate letters to the CDC and Food Safety and Inspection Service, part of USDA, DeLauro and Slaughter expressed their deep concern with the investigation into the outbreak and lack of action in response to prevent contaminated Foster Farms products from entering the marketplace. DeLauro is the former chairwoman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the USDA and currently senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the CDC. Slaughter, the senior Democrat on the House Rules Committee, is a microbiologist by training and has worked to stop the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.
“We are particularly troubled that there was an investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg that identified Foster Farms brand chicken as the most likely source of an outbreak beginning in 2012, but no action was taken and, tragically, a second outbreak occurred this year,” they wrote to CDC Director Thomas Frieden. The CDC has the lead responsibility in the federal government for investigating causes of foodborne illnesses.
“An outbreak of food-borne illness on the scale of that reported by the CDC in July is undoubtedly disconcerting to the American public,” DeLauro and Slaughter wrote to USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. “A second outbreak emanating from the same company is wholly unacceptable. It is FSIS’s core mission to prevent such outbreaks, as well as quickly and adequately respond to such incidents when they do occur, a regulatory responsibility that FSIS appears to have failed to meet in this case.”