March 3, 2009
REQUIRING CALIFORNIA GROCERIES TO USE SCANNERS
TO ALERT CONSUMERS OF FOOD RECALLS
Sacramento, Calif.—Today, Consumers Union and Food & Water Watch, a national consumer advocacy organization, expressed strong support for California Senate Bill (SB) 550 introduced by Senator Dean Florez, chair of the Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture. The legislation will require all California grocery stores that use programmable checkout scanners to ensure that employees and customers at the check-out stand are notified that the product being purchased is subject to a recall by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“Consumers Union is a strong supporter of this proactive measure, which establishes an alert system at the bigger grocery retailers in California,” said Elisa Odabashian, West Coast Director of Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. “Senator Florez’s legislation will go a long way in protecting consumers from purchasing recalled products.”
The recent salmonella outbreak in peanut products is the latest example of how contaminated foods can end up on store shelves, threatening consumer safety. The largest recall in U.S. history is linked to approximately 650 illnesses and nine deaths across 44 states. To date, over 2,100 products have been voluntarily recalled by more than 200 companies, and the list continues to grow.
”There must be measures in place to ensure that recalled food is not sold to unsuspecting customers,” said Mark Schlosberg, California director for Food & Water Watch. “Senator Florez’s legislation creates a necessary safety valve to ensure that consumers do not leave stores with food that has been recalled.”
Harnessing grocery stores’ internal databases and scanners has already proven to be effective in the recent recall efforts. Kroger, the nation’s second-largest food retailer, is using the technology to keep tainted goods from being sold or consumed.
Consumers Union and Food & Water Watch are working closely with members of Congress to craft legislation that will increase inspections of food facilities and give FDA mandatory recall authority with the end goal of further protecting American consumers.
Elisa Odabashian and Noelle Ferdon, senior organizer with Food & Water Watch, will participate in a press conference with Senator Florez on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 10:00 am in the State Capitol, Room 313, in Sacramento.
On Thursday, March 5, Food & Water Watch’s Mark Schlosberg will testify at a hearing of the Senate Food and Agriculture Committee on the recent salmonella outbreak associated with peanut products. The hearing is at 10:00 am in the State Capitol, Room 3191.
Naomi Starkman, CU, 917.539.3924 (cell)
Noelle Ferdon, FWW, 415-309-2426 (cell)
Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization based in Washington, D.C., works to ensure clean water and safe food in the United States and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink. For more information, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org.
Consumers Union is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.