Friday, March 27, 2009

FDA Hampered by Food Companies' Inadequate Records

The Wall Street Journal reports that HHS investigators "found that many food companies don't comply with federal recordkeeping requirements," hindering the FDA's ability to trace the source of food-borne illnesses quickly. According to the report, 60% of the 118 facilities surveyed by the HHS inspector general didn't keep adequate records. At a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee's appropriations panel, HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson said, "We don't have the compliance envisioned by Congress." The FDA is limited in its "ability to trace food products through each stage of the food supply chain back to the farm or border." Still, "FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek said the agency is developing guidance to improve the industry's recordkeeping and help the agency trace food contaminants." The agency is hampered, though, as its "funding and staff for food safety has shrunk in recent years." Levinson also "acknowledged that FDA's ability to inspect records -- absent a health threat -- is limited" and "urged Congress to amend the law so the FDA can request records at any time."

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