TexPIRG analyzed data on foodborne illnesses compiled by the Centers for Disease Control since October of last year. The group found that lost wages, medical expenses, and deaths from such illnesses cost $22 million nationwide. For Texas, the bill came to $2 million.
Sara Smith is program director for TexPIRG. She says federal budget cuts, such as the sequestration, are hampering the work of food safety inspectors.
“Congress acted in 2010 to pass the Food Safety Modernization Act, and this act was designed to prevent these outbreaks. But the FDA hasn’t taken the steps to enforce the rules they have and implement additional rules to protect consumers.”
The majority of Texas cases stemmed from an outbreak of cyclospora that swept the nation this summer. The cyclospora parasite causes severe diarrhea, among other symptoms. Texas accounted for more than 40% of reported cases during the outbreak.