New York Senator Charles Schumer has issued a call for the FDA to increase inspections at food warehouses throughout the country, citing some 90 warnings issued by the agency in 2014 to food facilities about insanitary conditions that included, in multiple cases, dead rodents and rodent feces.
“At the end of 2014, the FDA quietly revealed hundreds of food safety violations at food processing facilities over the course of the year, and everyone from restaurant-goers to owners are appalled by some of the disgusting conditions at warehouses that supply our food,” says Senator Schumer. “The FDA should immediately implement a three-pronged plan that would boost the number of inspections, create a public, searchable database about violations and increase the fines to improve conditions and deter future violations.”
Schumer says that the FDA’s inspection process is not sufficiently transparent and its website compiling warnings and inspection information is not easily searchable, leaving consumers poorly informed.
Redesigning the FDA’s inspection website or finding another way to alert the public about facilities that have received warnings might be a relatively easy fix, but increasing inspections will not be, says Michael Doyle, PhD, regents professor of microbiology and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.
“I can tell you that the FDA is way behind on its inspections. It all goes back to the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Dr. Doyle says. “There’s an emphasis on doing more inspections, but the money for doing them has not been included in the FDA’s budget. So as a result, the FDA will probably continue in the same mode as it has in the past: more responsibilities and regulations, without the funds to adequately address them.”
Shaw writes frequently about science, medicine, and health while serving as a regular contributor on notable medical publications.