Make Our Food Safe
04/18/2011

"Recipe for food safety"

TIME | Steven Gray

"On Sept. 16, 2010, a team of U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigators arrived at a Shanghai purveyor of dough, macaroni and baby cereal. Federal authorities had long suspected that Shanghai Chuangi Food Co.'s plants were unsanitary. Many of its products, like soup base, had been shipped to the port of New York and ultimately placed in an unknown number of goods that ended up on kitchen tables in the U.S. That's why federal authorities assigned to one of the FDA's new Chinese offices warned that country's government of their plans to pounce. FDA inspectors and a Chinese translator went to several Shanghai addresses listed for the company. Each time, representatives who answered the door refused to make executives available or allow inspectors inside. They even said the company didn't ship to the U.S. — which, of course, was a lie. Within a month, the FDA issued an import alert, banning Shanghai Chuangi's products from the U.S.

If you find that story reassuring, don't. The U.S. receives scores of tips about unsafe imported food each year, but the FDA inspects only about 1% of the roughly 10 million products shipped into the country annually. Blame it partly on a lack of funding and, until recently, authority..."

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