Recent outbreaks of food-borne illness in lettuce, peanut butter and cookie dough has some advocates calling for a national solution. Among them is commentator Robin Strosnider Dimock.
She’s with Safe Tables Our Priority, which works to prevent illness and death caused by food-borne pathogens.
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Robin Strosnider Dimock:
My son Brian was only five when apple juice ravaged his body and caused his kidneys to fail. That’s not what a parent expects from a box of juice.
Nearly 15 years later, Brian--at 6’5"--is not little anymore, but the effects of that illness remain. He left the hospital with his confidence shaken and his trust damaged by the E. coli O157:H7-infected apple juice he drank.
Brian was so shaken that he was not even able to memorize his multiplication tables like the other third-graders. He couldn’t understand why he couldn’t always do the work at school, even when everyone told him he was smart enough to do it.
For him, school became a daily frustration, dragging on for years, until he started to worry so much that he couldn’t fall asleep and became increasingly agitated because no one understood how he felt or knew how to help him.
Even though he continues to face ongoing memory problems, Brian worked hard to earn his high school diploma and these days works hard to be a valued employee at a gourmet market in Northwest Washington.
He’s an asset to the business and he’s rewarded with praise and increased responsibility; his bosses say he’s one of their hardest working employees.
Even though Brian has overcome many obstacles and has chosen the high road again and again, he and I can’t help but wonder what life might be like if he hadn’t encountered the physical and emotional troubles caused by the E. coli.
Every year, one in four Americans gets sick from contaminated food. Five thousand of them will die.
More than a year ago, an overwhelming, bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives passed a landmark food safety bill to bring our century-old food safety system up to date.
A similar bill was passed unanimously last fall by the Senate’s HELP committee with support from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski.
Sadly, due to competing priorities, this commonsense effort to protect public health remains stalled awaiting a vote in the full Senate.
As we know all too well, the longer it takes the Senate to pass food-safety legislation, the greater the likelihood that more Americans will unnecessarily suffer or die as a result of our nation’s outdated food-safety system.
Time is running out.
We need our senators to stand up for Brian and for families across our region and nation to bring this bill to a vote.
I’m Robin Strosnider Dimock.