Food Inspected? Not.

In the real world, food is not being inspected routinely as it enters the U.S. from other nations.

The story is reported brilliantly in today’s NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/us/foreign-food-inspections-decline-as-illnesses-rise.html.

It’s a terrific distraction to talk about GMOs, locavores, and farm to table nonsense, but the real story is elsewhere.  The Times reports in the story: “The Food and Drug Administration, which inspects everything but meat and poultry, is struggling to find the money to inspect foreign foods under a new food safety law that Congress did not support with enough funds. The Obama administration’s 2014 budget calls for an increase in agency financing, but the most money would come from fees that the food industry and Congress oppose. Lawmakers in March did approve an additional $40 million in one-time financing for the agency to put the new law into effect, but food safety experts say more money will be needed .”

Here are the consequences, as reported by the Times: “The upheavals in government food inspections are occurring as Americans are biting into more and more foreign food and the rate of illness from imported food is rising. Just last month, a salmonella outbreak was traced to Mexican cucumbers that sickened at least 73 people in 19 states. In just the past two years, major food poisoningoutbreaks from salmonella bacteria have been linked to imported foods, including Turkish pine nuts, Mexican papayas and cantaloupes from Guatemala. Last year, 2.5 million pounds of contaminated beef from Canada made it into American supermarkets before additional shipments were caught at the border.”

More broadly, the article notes: “A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an average of six and a half outbreaks a year from foreign foods between 2005 and 2010, more than double the annual rate of infection between 1998 and 2004. And the number of outbreaks caused by imported food could be far higher because the origins of many foods are not always known, said Hannah Gould, an epidemiologist at the agency.”

 

 

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