Lawmakers Propose To Require Stricter Oversight Over Labs Testing Imported Food

Private labs and former FDA employees have admitted that there are loopholes in the testing of imported food. There is no regulation that requires private labs to send all of their tests, good or bad, to the FDA.

But lawmakers want to close this loophole and require all test results, both good and bad, to be submitted to federal regulators.

Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the Eat Safe Act of 2007. This act includes additional funding for food-safety agencies and requires tighter oversight of private labs that test imported foods.

The bill also proposes that there be an additional funding of $25 million a year ($10 million for Department of Agriculture and $15 million for FDA) so federal food safety agencies can hire 250 workers, who would mainly focus on imports. Also the legislation asks for $6.5 million a year for food safety and food defense training for federal employees.

A former FDA attorney said this most recent bill is “something else to throw into the pot” and all of these bills focused on food safety show that lawmakers realize that the processes and procedures need to be changed at the FDA and with the safety of our food supply.

Source: USA Today

(Thanks menusux)

8 Responses to “Lawmakers Propose To Require Stricter Oversight Over Labs Testing Imported Food”

  1. Lynne says:

    This is a matter of public health and safety. Why are PRIVATE labs doing any of the work anyway? What do I pay taxes for? (Besides invading and occupying other nations)

  2. Lynn says:

    Lynne:

    I am not sure I understand the full scope of this bill, but my understanding is that the private labs are those contracted by the food manufacturing companies and the labs’ services are paid for out of the manufacturers’ pockets. Making it a regulation for the labs to send their test results to the FDA and USDA is a good thing. [Of course, now the food companies will probably find a way to contract with labs outside the US. And, the labs will probably find a way to issue a preliminary document to the manufacturer when they detect adverse results that they won’t send to the USG. Just my guess.] I don’t believe the Bill means to pay these labs.

    However, the Bill DOES include the hiring and training of more inspectors at the US import locations.

    Of course, all this begs the questions:
    What action will the FDA/USDA take when they receive a lab report that indicates a negative finding in the labs?
    Will the FDA/USDA have the right to go into the lab or onto the manufacturer’s premises and halt further production of the food? I wouldn’t count on it. [So then, what good is the requirement for the labs to send their findings in to the USG? Looks like the potential for a paper chase.]

  3. Lynn says:

    Whoops - let me rescind my previous statement, which was made on the basis of not reading both of the USA Today artlcles. Sorry.

  4. Katie says:

    It’s a concern that the FDA is going to regulate the labs…why not use the regulating agencies outside of the FDA who are not tied to lobbyists.

    Doesn’t make me feel anymore safe hearing that the independent labs will need to pass on both pass and fail results. FDA needs to say they will react and do something about the “bad results” like mandatory recalls, stiff fines, etc.

    FDA won’t stand behind Expertox results - when they didn’t like the findings. The Consumer Protection Safety didn’t like the way CNN tested for lead.

    Until there is an agreement on standardized testing procedures with limits set for our safety not limits set for dilution factors or for the benefit of corporate America - throwing more money and resources at a failing agency doesn’t make sense to me.

    As for the Senators and Congressman - recently they seem to be only trying to appease the public, hoping we think they are working hard for our health and safety which equates to votes next election. Someone on Capitol Hill needs to take the bull by the horns -

    Katie

  5. Lynn says:

    OK, now I’ve read the USA Today articles.

    [Let my mistake be a lesson to all: you really MUST read the source article and not rely on the Itchmo introduction.]

    The labs’ clients are the importers, who pay the lab fees. In the past it was the importer that received the lab’s report. The FDA is saying that with the new bill, the FDA must be sent copies of the reports.

    Lynne: The money they’re referring to in the bill is for more FDA/USDA inspection personnel at the import stations [not the labs] and for training.

    It all comes down to this: as long as the labs’ fees are paid for by the importers, the labs are going to be based and do their damnedest to keep their business. I’m not going to suggest that they will falsify reports, but I wonder if the labs won’t send the importer a “preliminary” report in the case of negative lab findings, that tips the importer off so that the company can destroy or “recall” the shipment. In effect, this would mean that no negative reports would ever go to the FDA.

    Important to note that the FDA proposed this bill in 2004 and it was never followed through. [Damn them! Think of what could have been prevented!!!!]

    It shows that the FDA is working to patch up some glaring black holes in their inspection system. But will they follow through? Or will they succumb to the protests of importers?

  6. mittens says:

    what, no big fat bonuses? surely it won’t pass. let’s tie to to a bill to bail out failing pet food companies while we’re at it in true washingtonian style.

    the most ethical congress ever.., which surely explains why they get nothing done and have an approval rating lower than even the president.

  7. Lynn says:

    I’ve got a better idea: let’s just stop importing ANYTHING that can be consumed by the human body.

    Of course, then we’ll have to open all the imported articles to make sure that when the paperwork claims the box contains lawn furniture, that it really doesn’t contain food supplies.

    So, maybe it’s just best to stop ALL importation!

  8. Dennis says:

    Not that this is the purpose of the legislation but I suspect this may wind up happening… The FDA might manage the lab results by removing the private lab authorizations or remove the labs’ ability to tell the customer who hired them the results they are paying to see. Or manage the labs’ public release of the results.

    So instead of cleaning up the situation and observing just how bad the taints are, I am concerned they might instead eliminate the private lab “threat” to the status quo of importing tainted goods. The greed factor in this process is nearly unstoppable from all angles. Just look at the NAFTA Superhighway planned to bring Chinese goods into the U.S. and Canada from Mexican ports to get some idea of the money at stake.


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