FDA Budget is Cut While Millions in U.S. are Still Sickened by Food
There is little surprise that there can be a disconnect in Washington D.C. when it comes to perception and reality. Take for instance the House of Representatives’ 2011 vote to cut the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety budget because House Republicans had argued, “our food system is 99 percent safe.”
Let’s look at the facts: in 2005, the United States had two fruit and vegetable recalls. In 2011 that total was 37. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people are sickened, 128,00 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year due to food-borne illness.
According to Bloomberg, the FDA is given approximately $1 billion per year to oversee the $1.2 trillion food industry. That pays for about 1,100 inspectors. Each year, they check only six percent of domestic food producers and 0.4 percent of importers.
Increasingly, private food inspectors, called “third party auditors,” have been filling the inspection gap. These inspectors are generally backed by the food industry, and not surprisingly, they have given thumbs-up to operations that should have been shut down, according to Bloomberg Markets magazine.
Bloomberg Markets cites an instance of an inexperienced private food inspector who gave a clean bill of health to a Colorado cantaloupe farm that was later implicated as the source of a listeria outbreak that killed 33 people in 2011. The 26-year-old inspector raised no objections when he found that the farm was not cleaning its melons with an antimicrobial wash. Amazingly, he also didn’t inspect the equipment that handled the melons for bacteria.
Disturbingly, the audit reports that private inspectors provide are secret and don’t have to be revealed to the American public.
So, is our food really “99 percent safe?” You be the judge.
Food producers and retailers need to be reminded that food safety is a serious business. If you have been harmed by contaminated food, call Jacksonville food recall attorney Eddie Farah at (800) 533-3555 for a free review of your case. He’ll fight for your rights.
By Eddie Farah