Pistachio Recall Could Be a Catalyst for FDA Overhaul
Filed Under: Health & Science | Posted: 04/03/2009 at 8:53AM
Comments | Region: United States
Will the pistachio recall, the second food borne illness to strike American nut processors this year, finally prompt FDA improvements?
The contamination was first detected nearly two weeks ago during “unrequired testing” by a Kraft Foods Inc. manufacturer, according to The Associated Press. Plant workers in Illinois discovered the contamination after checking a batch of roasted nuts being prepared for trail mix. Kraft hired private auditors who found that contamination might have started at a central California processing facility.
But food manufacturers are not required “to test the safety of their products” by the FDA or the state, so if Kraft had not taken the initiative to test the pistachios, the product “probably would still be on the market.”
Separately, the Kroger grocery store chain has also recalled jars of its Lite Mayo sold in three Midwestern states due to potential salmonella contamination. Although illnesses related to the mayonnaise have not been reported, Kroger has told customers not to eat it, and to return the jars to the grocery store, CBS News reported.
Jeff Levi, the executive director of Trust for America’s Health, released a statement calling the pistachio recall “the latest reminder of how vulnerable our food safety system is.” The FDA is inadequately prepared, “out-of-date, under-resourced, and understaffed,” the statement read. And although Kraft’s quick response “is also encouraging,” the system should be refocused to prevent contamination “through the entire food production process."
That month, nine FDA scientists wrote a letter to then President-elect Barack Obama asking him to fix the “broken” organization. A slew of problems at the FDA are “placing the American people at risk,” they explained. The group also charged that some products are allowed on the market without FDA approval, some are improperly labeled and that even though there was an internal investigation into the accusations, “absolutely nothing” came of it.