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FDA Only Inspects 2% of Imported Food Shipments

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According to a new report, FDA regulators inspected less than two percent of the food shipments that were imported to the U.S. in the 2012 fiscal year. Harvest Public Media’s Abbie Fentress [fenn-triss] Swanson reports. 


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ABBIE FENTRESS SWANSON: The report on the FDA’s food safety measures says more than 98 percent of imported food shipments, from coffee to seafood to fruit, were not physically inspected by federal authorities.  FDA inspectors are responsible for all domestic and imported food except meat, poultry and eggs. Those fall under US Department of Agriculture purview. Londa Nwadike is a food safety educator for the University of Missouri and Kansas State University. She says just 14 percent of domestic food facilities are being inspected. Still the import number is far lower.

     LONDA NWADIKE: It is a low percentage that is inspected. The FDA tries to make sure that they’re inspecting the highest risk products so they’re trying to find the things that would most likely cause food borne illness. [:12]

SWANSON: Higher risk products on FDA’s radar include cheese, produce and fish. Plus, Nwadike says, many retailers also have their own food safety inspection plans in place.

     NWADIKE: I don’t think consumers have to be necessarily extremely concerned but it’s something that they can think about and make choices accordingly. [:07.5]

SWANSON: The FDA says all imports are being electronically screened. That helps inspectors determine the shipments that pose the greatest risk and therefore should be physically examined. Abbie Fentress Swanson, Harvest Public Media.



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