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Here's an FDA report from 1998.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/commissioner/speeches_statements/archives/1998/sep241998.xml

Now, when the FDA refuses a food shipment, we work with the importer, under the law, to destroy or ensure exportation of that shipment. Should an importer select destruction as an option, the destruction does not necessarily take place at a Customs port of entry. The destruction may occur, for example, at a landfill or at an incineration plant. It is difficult to determine whether a shipment presented for destruction is the actual shipment that was imported and tested because the shipment remained in the physical control of the importer. Another challenge we face is that every port does not have the resources to send an inspector to witness every destruction. Some of our ports do witness all destructions. We estimate that there are approximately 10,000 FDA required destructions conducted in a year.

If an importer selects exportation as an option, as stated above Customs is working with FDA to target high-risk shipments for heightened levels of verification of exportation or destruction. Customs will disseminate examination guidelines along with designated targets to all of our inspection personnel to aid in this process. Once we have confirmed the exportation of food that has failed testing, the possibility remains that the importer may try to re-import the food. This is a complicated issue for FDA and us, and we will consult with FDA to review their policy on this subject and do all that we can to ensure that rejected food is not brought back into the United States.

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/commissioner/speeches_statements/archives/1998/sep241998.xml

That's for the shipments they have stopped at the port.  I'm assuming the stituation has deteriorated since 1998 (that would be one of the premises of the article quoted by Bob: that things are getting worse.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just surfing around...I found this, from February this year.

Federal auditor calls for massive reform to food safety system

The current federal system for food safety regulation is fragmented, ineffective and inefficient and needs to be fixed, according to a report by the General Accounting Office (GAO).

Another area the GAO targets for reform is in the sensitive area of food recalls. The agency noted that recalls are voluntary and federal agencies responsible for food safety have no authority to compel companies to carry them out. The exception is infant formula, which the FDA has the authority to force a recall.

"These agencies do not know how promptly and completely companies are carrying out recalls, do not promptly verify that recalls have reached all segments of the distribution chain, and use procedures to alert consumers to a recall that may not be effective," the GAO stated.



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:39:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Like I said, there may be evidence that the system is not working, but the 1.3% sampling rate is not it. Declining sampling rates, ineffective recalls, etc, that I can go with.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:43:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, okay.  But I think your insistence on the 1.3% is a red herring.  I think what the author meant was: "They only look AND DEAL WITH 1.3% of what's coming through the ports."

If they looked at 1.3%, extrapolated out and uses that to deal with ALL products coming through the port (and I'm not sure how they'd do that without closing down the port for a few weeks and checking through every last producer--supplier-shipper-buyer chain--whatever the order is--so that the extrapolation turned into a real regulatory process)...then, really, they're checking 1.3% of throughput and blocking the percentage of the 1.3% (which I read is about 16%) which is fails FDA controls in some way.

That's what I've understood so far.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Coz, ya know, I'm just doing a bit of googling, but my "internal narrative" (my prejudice) tells me that contaminated food...is cheaper...makes more money...and the health of people...is a secondary consideration.  So: I is no expert, but what I've found so far confirms my prejudice (Republicans increase funds to fight wars against drugs and belief systems; they reduce funds to fight wars against health risks to US citizens...that kinda thing.)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:52:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
..though when I write "Republicans"..I dunno.  "Corruption"--corrupted individuals in positions of power sounds more like it.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:53:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The declining percentage of imports controlled could also be explained by the development of Quality Assurance certification like ISO 9000 standards. In that case, products and processes are inspected and certified at the manufacturer's production site under very strict rules.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 08:03:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think they sample chinese factories too?  (The same rules would therefore apply.)  My suggestion is that we are seeing the deliberate reduction of standards due to...the lust for higher profits.  My bet: the companies shipping the contaminated foodstuffs are...owned by people with lossa money, including (but not only) americans.

Hence your good point re: REACH.

Recently, the European Union has adopted some of the world's strictest policies on e-waste and potentially hazardous chemicals.

http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/2006-07/06-074.html

Does it also regulate foodstuffs?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 08:11:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, hence Miguel's good point re: REACH.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 08:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is the original GAO report.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/useftp.cgi?IPaddress=162.140.64.21&filename=d07449t.txt& amp;directory=/diskb/wais/data/gao

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2007 at 07:44:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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