Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C. — “In light of recent lapses in the import inspection program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), I call on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to conduct an investigation into the increasing number of incidents associated with imported meat and poultry products not receiving proper inspection at ports-of-entry.
“Today I sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack pointing to six specific instances where imported product was either recalled or entered into U.S. without proper inspection. In some of these cases, the problem was not discovered until U.S. consumers had already consumed most of the product. Many of the incidents seem to be tied to deficiencies in the new inspection information technology system implemented by FSIS called the Public Health Information System (PHIS).
“We already knew that there were major problems with PHIS for domestic inspection, but now we are finding that PHIS is just as bad or even worse for imported food inspection. This is extremely troubling and we are seeking specific answers to what is happening with import inspection at FSIS, especially as USDA is considering expanding meat and poultry imports from Brazil and the People’s Republic of China that have very weak food safety systems.”