Sen. Charles Schumer is not pleased with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The senior senator from New York said the agency takes too long to get dangerous food off shelves, which puts Americans at risk of getting sick. According to Schumer, the FDA needs to rework its guidelines to facilitate the recall process.
When talking to reporters at his Upper East Side office, he was particularly concerned that the FDA did not move to stem the E. coli outbreak that affected 21 states by recalling the tainted flour it was linked to earlier. The earliest case in the outbreak was reported in December but the agency didn't issue a recall notice until May 2016.
"Thousands and thousands and thousands got sick because of the delayed recall," said Schumer, who referred to the FDA's recall process as "shockingly lax."
In February, there was a mass chicken recall in New York because of listeria. Earlier in the summer, the state also saw a beef recall due to E. coli contamination.
Schumer did not have specific recommendations in place to help hasten the recall process but said that it has to be fixed and fixed fast. According to the senator, babies and the elderly are the ones most at risk when a product recall takes too long.
Also in May, Schumer called on the FDA to be stricter on e-cigarettes, telling the agency not only to investigate the cigarette alternative but also to issue a recall if needed, especially on e-cigarettes that have already been reported to have exploded.
In April, a teenage boy from Brooklyn was blinded in one eye after an e-cigarette he was checking out exploded. Unfortunately, the incident isn't isolated, as other cases of explosions have been reported already.
Schumer describes e-cigarettes as ticking time bombs and believes lack of prior regulation has contributed to a lapse in acknowledging that the device has potential dangers.
The FDA has announced that it will be issuing tougher regulations on e-cigarettes and this has sat well with the senator, who urged the agency to use its authority to probe into why e-cigarettes are exploding.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the dangers of exploding e-cigarette devices, especially when many of the injured are teens," said Schumer.
Specifically, the senator wants to know if explosions are caused by certain parts in the e-cigarettes, like faulty batteries or atomizers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use is rising among teens, going from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2016.