Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why We Need To Fund The FDA.

Food Manufacturing posted a story this morning about a seafood company having it's products seized due to non-conformance with HACCP.  I looked up the warning letter and was amazed at how horrible their HACCP plan was.  They had critical control points for holding raw fish that didn't include a temperature and a ccp for thawing frozen seafood that also had no temperature controls.


Then imagine my surprise when I found out they received another FDA warning letter way back in 1998.  It was then that I was even more disturbed to learn that this wasn't, Meiko, the seafood company whose products were seized... this was Schneider's Fish & Seafood Company.

I looked into it and a search for "seafood HACCP" of the FDA's Warning Letter's site yielded 997 results since 1998.  For those unaware, the FDA issued a final rule on Seafood HACCP in 1995.  40 companies were repeat offenders, many of which went 4 years or more between warning letters.  

I find a couple things troubling about this. First, it's unclear if these places were inspected during those 4+ year gaps.  Second, these are only warning letters that pertain to their HACCP plans either being inadequate or plans not being followed.

The fact that there are companies that lack complete seafood HACCP plans in 2011 is insane and points out a glaring hole in our food safety system... Inspectors.  These guys aren't consistently inspecting these facilities because they're stretched way too thin.  We didn't need the the new regulations that were passed earlier in the year.  What we needed and still need is the staffing to enforce the laws we already have.

This would have several benefits, the most obvious being jobs.  We need several thousand more inspectors in both the FDA and the FSIS(USDA).  The result of this could mean that more recent college grads with food backgrounds can get a solid position and they can start paying back student loans.  The money they'll get paid will go right back into the economy.  Increased inspections mean more hotel and airline bookings, more eating out at restaurants, which puts more money in the pockets of the service industry workers.  Government work means government benefits, which also means there will be more people insured in this country.

But even more than that is the growth this will spur in the food industry.  Many companies, while concerned about food safety, may not be too worried about an inspector showing up anytime soon.  This means that they get a little more lax on the cleaning and some of the upkeep.  With the promise of more inspections, capital projects are more likely to be invested in, which means more hiring and more overtime, more millwrights will be employed and processing lines will get updated.  As much as industry likes to complain about regulation, they also hate when a similar company has a major food safety issue because it makes them look bad by proxy.  Also, it's good for timely inspections to weed out the bad seeds, and give all the other players in the industry a chance to gain market share.

It's unfortunate that political ideology has gotten in the way of sound economic and domestic policy.  This, along with infrastructure spending, seems like a complete no-brainer to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Put your comment here, kind sir/madame. Try to cite sources when stating facts and refrain from off topic comments or hateful/nasty rhetoric.