Thursday, May 17, 2007

A final point that the article in Business Week that I cited in the last blog on this matter makes is the stark contrast between the resources allocated to the FDA and those allocated to the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA). The USDA handles meat and the FDA handles "everything else". Way back in 2003 when hundreds of Americans were sickened by Jack in the Box hamburgers the USDA was accorded both the resources and the authority to do its job right. The FDA has 10 times as many inspectors as the FDA. It limits shipments to a few ports where its inspectors can have easy access and can ban exports from any company that its deems as failing safety standards.
The state of the FDA can be judged from a case two years ago when they suspected Salmonella contamination in ice cream from the Cold Stone Creamery. The ancient labs at the FDA failed to find the bacteria, but when they sent samples to an outside lab, the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, the culprit could be identified easily. A plan for a $100 million upgrade to the state of the FDA was proposed as long ago as 5 years past. Congress refused to pass the bill due to intensive lobbying on the part of the food industry. One wonders how many deaths have to occur before they wake up. Check out the article cited for more on this matter.

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