Just 1.3 percent of imported fish, vegetables, fruit and other foods are inspected — yet those government inspections regularly reveal food unfit for human consumption.
Frozen catfish from China, beans from Belgium, jalapenos from Peru, blackberries from Guatemala, baked goods from Canada, India and the Philippines — the list of tainted food detained at the border by the
Food and Drug Administration stretches on.
Add to that the contaminated Chinese wheat gluten that poisoned cats and dogs nationwide and led to a massive pet food recall, and you've got a real international pickle. Does the United States have the wherewithal to ensure the food it imports is safe?
Food safety experts say no.
With only a minuscule percentage of shipments inspected, they say the nation is vulnerable to harm from abroad, where rules and regulations governing food production are often more lax than they are at home.
"FDA doesn't have enough resources or control over this situation presently," said Mike Doyle (news, bio, voting record), director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety, which works with industry to improve safety.