TAKE ACTION: New Gov. Report Shows FDA Fails to Protect the Public
Food safety is of great importance to the UFW and its supporters. It’s been in the headlines often because of this Feb. ’08’s beef recall and the Sept. ’06 e-coli outbreak in the spinach that caused hundreds of illnesses and several deaths. Therefore we wanted to immediately share a report that was just released for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The report examines the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) efforts to protect the safety of packaged fresh spinach. Please take immediate action http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/fda308/8in6bn5zh7n656t5? and tell your congress members to make food safety a priority. Let them know we are tired of the FDA putting our safety at risk.

 According to the report, the FDA inspection records of firms producing bags of fresh spinach from 2001 to 2007 reveal:
* These facilities were inspected only once every 2.4 years–less than half of FDA’s stated goals.

* FDA observed objectionable conditions during 47% of the packaged fresh spinach facility inspections. For example, more than 60% of the inspections with “objectionable conditions” revealed problems related to facility sanitation, such as inadequate restroom cleanliness or accumulations of litter. 

* Despite observing objectionable conditions in packaged fresh spinach facilities, FDA took no meaningful enforcement action.

* FDA overlooked repeated violations. At numerous firms, but only continued to ask for self compliance.

* FDA found repeated problems at multiple facilities operated by the firm implicated in the 2006 E. coli outbreak but took no enforcement actions. The records show that in the years prior to the outbreak, FDA conducted multiple inspections and repeatedly found problematic conditions at a number of their facilities. However, FDA at no time required the firm to correct these conditions at any of its facilities, even after laboratory tests indicated the presence of microbial contamination at the exact site later implicated in the 2006 outbreak.  

* In eight cases, packaged fresh spinach facilities denied FDA inspectors access to records or other relevant material. Under current law, FDA lacks the authority to compel production of firm records. On one occasion, inspectors were denied access to written records by the facility that was the site of the 2006 outbreak. 

* The FDA only inspected processing plants. They did not monitor the actual fields where the product was grown.

The inspection reports provided to the Committee raise serious questions about the ability of FDA to protect our safety.

Enough is enough. There have been at least 20 outbreaks of e-coli in fresh spinach or lettuce over the past 12 years as well as countless other food safety scares. Various proposals have been introduced to congress to regarding food safety.  It’s time for action and not just talk. E-mail your congress members and tell them to make food safety a priority.

Tell-A-Friend:  Every e-mail sent makes a difference. Forward this message to at least 10 friends or family and ask them to send an e-mail too.

UFW, 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Rd., P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA 93531