Data from the FDA should be of concern to food industry sourcing professionals and the Obama Administration.

May 12th, 2009

With the number of food scares we have endured during the last several years and the dollars that the FDA has spent on additional resources; shouldn’t the FDA be doing better than this?

With the number of food scares we have endured during the last several years and the dollars that the FDA has spent on additional resources; shouldn’t the FDA be doing better than this?

According to an article in USA TODAY last week by Julie Schmit the FDA fell short of its goals in at least seventeen of thirty-nine states that they paid to do inspections during the 2007 -2008 contract year.

An FDA resource indicated that they do not meet their targets every year, but they are looking at continuous improvement. This author does not believe that a 43.5% failure rate indicates continuous improvement even if recent data was much worse. This of course does not speak to the fact that some states actually received no audits. In fact in the prior reporting periods, the State of Texas received no audits and is one of the largest FDA contract states.

Maybe the Obama administration should be using some stimulus dollars to insure the safety of our food supply. I have posted before on the new administrations concerns relative to food safety. The administration actually claims that their economic stimulus initiatives will in fact add or save as many as 3.5 million jobs. New Flash. Put a few of the stimulus dollars into ensuring an acceptable rate of success in FDA audits and inspections.

In the USA TODAY article, the FDA indicated that other priorities such as food borne illness outbreaks absorb so many FDA and state resources that audits are skipped. This is a chicken or the egg excuse as far as this author is concerned. If all audits and inspections were conducted on time and companies held accountable to audit standards, we might not have had some of the food borne illness outbreaks in the first place.

While it remains imperative that next generation supplier databases offer traceability to the original source of supply and adherence to a number of food safety certifications, proper inspection and audits completed on schedule at an acceptable rate of over 90% is imperative to insuring consumer satisfaction with our food supply chain.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

Ron Southard

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