General Mills’ decision to expand its recall by another 15 million pounds of flour last week was disconcerting for cookie-lovers (so, everyone), but according to the FDA, it’s just one of 57 bacteria-related recalls that have occurred in the U.S. since May 31. This crazy figure has suddenly come to Chuck Schumer’s attention, and he is, as expected, not having it: Over the weekend, New York’s perpetually vexed senior senator, who usually doesn’t wait half this long to get in people’s faces when it comes to issues of food safety, became the latest politician to demand the FDA overhaul what he argues is an obviously broken system.
“Delays in getting bad food off store shelves is just a recipe for disaster,” he said in a statement released Sunday. “That’s why the FDA must come to the table with a healthy, new plan, detailing how they will revamp and execute a reformed food recall process. One that gets potentially contaminated food off the shelves before Americans risk getting sick, not after.” General Mills’ E. coli outbreak isn’t troubling just because of how big the recall is, he writes — what’s maybe worse is that it took five months to issue it.
Schumer references an inspector general’s report from June that blasted the agency for taking too long to initiate recalls. That report mentions 30 instances between October 2012 and May 2015 where the agency spent “months” encouraging companies to do voluntary recalls even though there was evidence of dangerous contamination. The report concludes by saying the FDA “[does] not have an efficient and effective food recall initiation process that helps ensure the safety of the Nation’s food supply.” Senator Schumer has demanded that the FDA do a thorough, top-to-bottom review and find a way to quit exposing “countless Americans to food that can make them sick — or even kill them.”