Friday, October 22


The Government Accountability Office released a blistering report saying the USDA and FDA are failing to properly track meat recalls or enforcing them to the extent that unsafe meat doesn't get eaten. Less than 40 percent of recalled food is returned to stores or distributors. Here's an abstract, with links to full versions. Plenty of interesting stuff, including the FDA's mysteriously divergent public and private recall databases, but as far as I can tell, no in-depth examination of the "Friday Recall" syndrome.

Meanwhile, there's now a criminal probe under way in the 2002 Pilgrim's Pride recall for listeria in processed poultry. Remember how freakily that thing unfolded? I hope some heads will roll this time for a change, but I'm not holding my breath - except when I'm around one of their processing plants. "The inspector general audited 582 forms the Food Safety and Inspection Service used to monitor the recall, and found discrepancies on 389 of them - a 66 percent failure rate." That's a failure on the part of the USDA, in case the FSIS-talk obscures it. And as if to drive home the GAO's point, "the inspector general determined that only 5.5 million pounds [20%] of recalled poultry products were actually recovered by Pilgrim's Pride. 'The rest of the recalled product, almost 21.9 million pounds, was consumed in the marketplace or otherwise disposed of.'" Similarly, echoing the GAO concerns, "in many cases, the service [FSIS] didn't determine how much poultry Pilgrim's Pride customers purchased, and failed to document whether tainted poultry was located and destroyed, according to the reports. In some cases, the FSIS checked businesses that didn't purchase any of the tainted poultry products because inspectors 'didn't have a process for selecting customers.' The reports also determined FSIS failed to check up on the recall in a timely manner."

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