"WASHINGTON — A Colorado cantaloupe farm linked by federal regulators to one of the deadliest food outbreaks since the 1920s was graded as having “superior” safety practices just one month before consumers became ill from eating the fruit.
A private company handled the inspection, typical of most audits required by retailers to ensure suppliers prevent food contamination. The Food and Drug Administration later found unsanitary conditions at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colo., that likely led to the listeria-tainted outbreak that sickened 139 people and killed 29 starting in August.
On average, the FDA inspects less than a quarter of food facilities each year, a 2010 report found. Safety advocates such as Chicago-based STOP Foodborne Illness say the federal government should accredit private auditors who inspect domestic farms and facilities, standardize training and force retailers to pay for the inspections — often funded by the food producers themselves — to eliminate potential conflicts of interest..."