Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The USDA Doesn't Want Recall Authority

The USDA has jurisdiction over meat, poultry, and eggs. The FDA has jurisdiction over just about all other food products. The FDA does not currently have recall authority, but they are in the process of asking Congress for it.

In my previous post I said I did not know whether the USDA had recall authority. The article below suggests they do not have recall authority, nor do they want it:

"The U.S. Agriculture Department does not need additional authority to conduct meat recalls and would oppose any move to make the removal of such items from the market mandatory, the USDA's top meat safety official (Richard Raymond) told lawmakers on Wednesday."
"Raymond (USDA Undersecretary) said there are several factors USDA is investigating that could be responsible for the uptick in E. coli discoveries. ... Among them include the pathogen becoming resistant to drugs and changes in weather or diet that can lead to stress in the animal. He assured lawmakers it was not because companies are being careless or inspectors sloppy in their work."
- USDA Says Has Enough Legal Authority To Do Recalls
Is the USDA being influenced by industry interests? Or do they truly believe that distancing themselves from meat commerce is the best way to assure the safety of our meat supply?

If the most effective way of assuring that recalled products have been removed from store shelves is to allow industry to police itself, then why did:
"State inspectors said Wednesday that they have found more boxes of potentially tainted meat on store shelves more than a month after a nationwide recall of Topps frozen hamburgers. ... Over the past few weeks1, 141 boxes of Topps burgers have been found at 12 stores."
- Recalled Topps Meat Found In N.J. Stores
Someone made money from the sale of that recalled meat.
1 The recall was Sept 29, the date of this article was Nov 8.
Info thanks to Bill Marler, who had a little more to say about this here.

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