With all of the numerous recalls on human food, pet food, and other products, one would think that the FDA would not permit any loopholes to allow contaminated products into our food supply. But, five lab operators told USA Today that this is not true.
At Anresco Labs and other labs that test imported food, five lab operators said the FDA gets the favorable test results, but the negative test results are not sent to the FDA if importers tell the labs not to send them. At least 10% of the time, the lab finds contaminated shipments.
There is no regulation that requires labs to send all of their tests to the FDA. In 2004, the FDA proposed that they should get all of the results, both good and bad, but three years later, nothing has changed and no one has brought up the proposal again, and the FDA is still in the dark of the failed lab results.
David Eisenberg, chairman of Anresco Labs, said the FDA should have access to all of the lab results because this could put the public at risk and also forces lab to not say anything because they need to keep their clients. He said the current system protects the importer instead of the public.
One lab said they have even been threatened by lawsuits to not submit failed results to the FDA.
Since the FDA will reject food that has failed test results, some importers who get the negative results from one lab will hire another lab to test the food and get a passing result and give that to the FDA. From there, most likely, the FDA would approve the food to be sold in the US.
David Nelson, senior investigator for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, testified during a food safety hearing, “We’ve heard that there are labs that don’t find products â€¦ ever to be out of compliance. And we’ve found labs that don’t report all test results.”
The FDA said they don’t have any evidence that importers are sneaking in contaminated food by not releasing failed results or going to another lab to get positive results.
David Acheson, FDA’s assistant commissioner of food safety, said by mid-2008, the FDA will have standards for imported food testing by labs and that labs will be accredited by an outside body.
One former FDA attorney who now works with companies on import regulations said, “The FDA hasn’t done the hard work of establishing standards. The lack of standards promotes an impression that (the labs) are out of control. But it’s not the labs’ fault. It’s really the FDA’s fault.”
Source: USA Today