How Safe Are Our Food Imports?
FDA Import Violations by Food Product, FY 2010
Americans' appetite for imported food has expanded dramatically over the past few decades. For each of the past seven years, food imports have grown by an average of 10 percent. Currently, between 10 and 15 percent of all food consumed by U.S. households is imported. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nearly two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood consumed domestically come from outside the United States.
In 2010, the United States imported more than 14 million metric tons of raw fruits and vegetables and 2.4 million metric tons of seafood. Ninety-six percent of all raw produce imports comes from just 10 countries. Similarly, almost 80 percent of imported seafood is sourced by 10 countries. Overall, more than 90 percent of the imported produce and seafood rejected in border inspections was cited for the appearance of potentially dangerous adulteration, including the presence of pathogens, illegal pesticides, chemicals and other sanitary violations.
*This chart includes all violations—not just those related to safety—that resulted in a line item being refused.
Full Report: FOCUS ON: Food Import Safety
In January 2011, President Barack Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law, signaling the first major update to our nation’s food safety oversight framework since the Great Depression. Despite widespread support for the legislation and its implementation, the Obama administration still has not issued all of the proposed rules under FSMA. More info
"The Food and Drug Administration will not reduce food inspections because of budget cuts, despite warning earlier that it could be forced to eliminate thousands of inspections by Sept. 30." More info
"Twenty-two weeks. That’s how long it took federal health officials to determine the contaminated food source after the first person was infected in a 2011 outbreak of salmonella that swept across 34 states, sickened 136 people and led to one of the largest national recalls of ground turkey." More info
A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections linked to ground turkey in 2011 sickened 136 people, causing 37 hospitalizations and one death. The Pew Charitable Trusts' analysis of the outbreak found numerous inadequacies in the foodborne illness surveillance system that, if addressed, could help to prevent illnesses and, in some cases, deaths. More info
An examination of a Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to ground turkey illustrates that health authorities must be more aggressive in their efforts to detect and respond to foodborne illnesses, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, titled “Too Slow: An Analysis of the 2011 Salmonella Ground Turkey Outbreak and Recommendations for Improving Detection and Response.” In all, the contaminated food sickened a reported 136 people in the United States, hospitalized 37 and killed one, according to government data. More info
This year's celebration of National Public Health Week (NPHW) focuses on the theme, "Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money." Join us in recognizing the work of Pew's Health Initiatives. More info
"Six years ago, Bend resident Chrissy Christoferson's ten-month-old son suffered a ten-day struggle with what first appeared to be a touch of the flu." More info
"Portlander Joe Day tearfully recalled the year his family spent Thanksgiving in a hospital cafeteria, as his sister, suffering from e coli, fought for her life several floors above." More info
My name is Jennifer Exley, and I reside in Centennial, Colorado. I am the daughter of Herbert Stevens, who was deeply impacted by listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in August 2011. As you well know, 147 people were sickened and 33 people died in that outbreak — the deadliest in 25 years. My father was one of the so-called lucky survivors. His health and quality of life was, and remains, seriously affected because of something he ate. More info
''Several hundred farmers, regulators and consumers from Alaska to North Dakota to California gathered in Portland on Wednesday to listen to federal plans to overhaul the food safety system." More info
Jeff Almer's mother, Shirley Almer, a two-time cancer survivor, died right before Christmas 2008. She lost her life not because of a horrific disease, but due to an infection she got from something she ate. She had defied the odds and beaten brain cancer. It was peanut butter contaminated with salmonella that eventually took her away from her family. More info
Rylee Gustafson is a Henderson, Nevada, resident who became ill from E. coli in spinach in 2006. More info
Samantha Bernstein is a Seattle resident whose younger sisters were sickened in 1996 by E. coli in triple-washed mesclun lettuce. More info
The Obama administration has taken an important step by releasing the draft rules central to implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but it must do more. Important draft regulations focused on the safety of imported foods are still awaiting release. These rules are especially important since about two-thirds of fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood consumed in the United States come from abroad. More info
On Thursday, February 28 and Friday, March 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C., on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) draft rules released earlier this year. The public will also have the opportunity to testify at agency meetings in Chicago and Portland on March 11-12 and March 27-28, respectively. More info