FDA’s Incongruous, Meaningless New Measures Fall Short on Dangerous Imported Food
Earlier this year, the FDA proposed two new rules that would help prevent contaminated food from sickening Americans. These rules fall short of what is needed as they will only have an effect on domestically produced foods, while imported foods that are potentially more dangerous are ignored.
The first of these rules is aimed at manufacturers of processed foods and requires these manufacturers to have plans to avoid contamination, with records that can be traced by the FDA. The second rule sets higher standards for how produce is grown, harvested and packaged.
These are positive moves for the FDA, but a third and more important rule is sitting on the sidelines with no date for implementation. This rule sets standards for the responsibility importers have for the safety and origin of the food they bring into this country. With an increasingly large percentage of the food we eat coming from overseas, we know less and less about where that food is coming from, how it is grown, and most important, how safe it is.
Americans now import more food than ever before; close to 20 percent of all the food we eat comes from overseas. Of the shrimp and other seafood Americans consume, over 80 percent is imported from foreign sources, and the percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables that are imported doubled between 1993 and 2007. These increasing numbers have made it difficult for FDA inspectors to ensure the safety of food entering the country.
We now inspect less than 2 percent of all food imports. There are simply not enough inspectors to do the necessary work. When states like Alabama test imported fish, they reject up to 50%. The FDA does not have the resources to check all of the food coming in, tariffs are needed to fund the FDA so they can check the food entering the country.
Placing more regulations on domestic operations without first addressing the problem of imported food will only make it more difficult for those who produce in the United States to compete. Importers will gain an even bigger foothold, and could potentially use that increased power to resist any new regulations on imports. Our free trade agreements are already delaying the implementation of this third rule. The WTO has consistently ruled against the United States for violating trade agreements when we try to protect our own citizens, so it seems likely they would do so again with this rule.
Our government’s priorities are clearly backwards. We need to free ourselves from these international agreements so that we can begin to regulate what we bring into this country and onto our dinner tables.
Show this article to your Congressional Representatives, ask them, what are they doing about it!?