FDA Fails to Ensure the Safety of Fresh Produce

By Alice Carver
15:37, September 29th 2008



Source of Article:  http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_FDA_Fails_to_Ensure_the_Safety_of_Fresh_Produce_25346.html


A report released by the Government Accountability Office revealed that the FDA failed to prevent food borne illnesses and to implement a program devoted to the safety of fresh produce. It appears that repeated outbreaks of food poisoning have interfered with efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve the safety of fresh produce, according to the report.

“While FDA has considered fresh produce safety a priority for many years, resource constraints and other work – including counterterrorism efforts and unplanned events such as foodborne illness outbreaks – have caused FDA to delay key produce safety activities,” the GAO report reads. The investigation was requested by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. in 2006 after a nationwide outbreak of illness was traced to a batch of bagged California spinach that was tainted with a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria.

According to the report, the FDA spent at least $20 million or about 3 percent of its food safety dollars on fresh produce in 2007.

The report revealed that the FDA doesn’t have enough inspectors, staffers, scientists and law enforcement at fresh produce processing plants. The report showed that 25 percent of Americans fall ill from contaminated food early, which means an estimated 76 million people.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told the AP that the GAO report should serve as a wake-up call that consumers deserve far better protection from contaminated produce.

On the other hand, FDA’s Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach responded to the report saying that a number of significant steps have been made. “It’s a work in progress, and it will continuously go on and continuously improve ... There’s much more to come.” He said the FDA has been doing whatever it can to protect Americans.



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