Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Demand that the government provide the funds necessary to ensure the safety of imported foods
Only one to two percent of food imported by the United States is physically inspected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Sadly, this oversight is not due to a lack of regulatory laws, but to a lack of funding to enforce them. Many foods leave their country of origin without inspection and hit the U.S. markets without inspection as well, leaving consumers vulnerable to any number of food-borne ailments.
Imports have more than doubled in the past decade, yet the number of rejected shipments has not gone up. Roughly 16,700 foreign food shipments have been barred over the last decade after inspectors found shipments with a “filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance,” or evidence of salmonella or excessive histamine levels, or mold. If such a significant number of shipments are barred when the inspection rate is no more than two percent, the amount of contaminated food that is not stopped at the border is likely staggering.
In January 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, tightening FDA regulations on imported and domestically produced foods. An estimated 130,000 food production facilities around the world are regulated by the FDA in 150 countries. By the 2016 fiscal year, the FDA is required by law to inspect 19,200 of these facilities. The last available inspections report from the FDA says a mere 1,342 facilities were inspected in 2012.
One of the monumental changes in FDA regulation implemented by the FSMA holds importers accountable by requiring them to vouch for the safety of the food they receive from the exporter. Unfortunately, with so few inspections by the FDA, this leaves the safety of imported food regulated by an honor system.
While the FDA faces some blame for the faults in its food safety control, it also lacks the funding needed to follow the through on the regulations of FSMA. Sign this petition to urge Congress to fund full inspections of imported goods and help keep our food free from contaminants.
Dear President Obama,
Despite the overhaul to FDA regulations included in the FSMA of 2011, very few inspections of imported food are physically conducted at present. Even the former FDA Senior Associate Commissioner admitted, “They look at very, very little. They sample very, very little.”
In the last decade imports have more than doubled, but the number of rejected foreign food shipments has remained nearly the same, inciting concern that contaminated food is more than likely slipping by.
The funding promised to fully implement the laws of the FSMA has not been given to the FDA. Without the necessary financial backing to acquire the staff and equipment necessary to comply with regulations, the FDA cannot effectively protect our food from contamination.
I urge you to allot the necessary funding to uphold the regulations of the FSMA and to protect the health of your citizens.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Garitzko via Wikimedia Commons