So that’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made a big deal about their new import monitoring program yesterday: because today, government auditors say FDA is often sloppy and inattentive in their efforts to ensure that contaminated foods from abroad are withdrawn promptly and completely from the nation’s food supply.
Gardiner Harris reports in this morning’s New York Times that in an audit of 17 recalls, investigators found FDA often failed to follow its own rules in removing dangerous imported foods from the market, according to Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The products included cantaloupes from Honduras contaminated with salmonella, frozen mussel meat from New Zealand infected with listeria and frozen fish from Korea that contained the bacterium that causes botulism.
In one case, more than three months passed from the time the F.D.A. became aware of the contamination to the time a recall was initiated. In another case, the lag was nearly a month. In 13 of the 17 cases, the companies that supplied the tainted goods failed to provide accurate or complete information to their customers so that the products could be withdrawn completely, the audit found.