Monday, May 7, 2007

FDA - We make FEMA look good

Okay, first, go here for items that say "FDA... we make FEMA look good"
Buy a few - I think we'll be needing them for awhile. And send one to me while you're at it. ;-),0,6717023.story?coll=bal-health-headlines
Food imports called safe FDA czar urges new strategy to inspect, protect supply line

By Jonathan D. Rockoff Sun Reporter Originally published May 5, 2007 WASHINGTON // Federal investigators believe they have now traced all of the sources of contaminated food supplies from China, according to the nation's new food safety czar, who said yesterday that the U.S. government needs to move in new directions to protect food supplies.

Despite publicity about tainted shipments from overseas, Dr. David W.K. Acheson said Americans shouldn't fear eating imported foods.
What??! Are you out of your bloody mind?? Okay folks, I've been reading these things every day for weeks, it's your turn. What follows are links to some FDA Import Alerts that detail what is on our imported foods, both human and pet. (I read some yesterday that started a whole new thread of scary stuff in my mind, I'll post them when I can.)

OASIS Refusals by Industry for March 2007 (Note: This is for 1 month only!)

Here's a link to the violation code translation

And here's a list of the CURRENT, active Import Alerts

And check this page out:

Pesticides, Metals, Chemical Contaminants & Natural Toxins

The rest of the don't-worry-be-happy article is below - as posted by Christie over at PetConnection late Saturday night. Yeah, I'm late posting it - it made me so angry yesterday I started, but couldn't finish, this post.

Okay, now that we’ve gone… er, let’s see… 24 hours without a recall… guess what? YES! It’s all over! The crisis is behind us. Our pets’ food is safe. And so is ours. We can move on.

How do I know? The FDA said so. Now, let me say that I’m abandoning all efforts at journalistic objectivity here and frankly confessing this article made my head explode, and it wasn’t pretty. Here, feel my pain:

Despite publicity about tainted shipments from overseas, Dr. David W.K. Acheson said Americans shouldn’t fear eating imported foods.

“Consumers should be reassured that the international situation is under control,” he said in an interview. “We’re now getting on with this proactive strategy.”

Acheson, who was named this week to the newly created post of assistant FDA commissioner for food protection, said investigators have made significant progress in tracing the tainted ingredient from China that is believed to have killed cats and dogs in this country and entered other animal feed products.

Note the language: “Believed to have.” As if it hadn’t been actually physically discovered in the gluten and rice protein, in the food, and in the urine and kidneys of the dead pets. Also, note the use of the phrase “despite publicity,” implying this is a hysterical over-reaction to something, rather than a something on its own. How about, “Despite there having been melamine and cyanuric acid in foods imported into this country, people shouldn’t fear eating them.”

Moving on:

He said that Americans should not worry about serving pet food to their dogs and cats. Over the past seven weeks, the contamination prompted the recall of 150 brands of pet food, forced the quarantine of more than 100,000 hogs and chickens that may have been fed tainted feed and prompted the Chinese to detain one food company’s executive.

I feel so reassured.

Acheson said he has begun developing new plans for protecting the nation’s food supply from contamination, either through commercial transactions or terrorist acts.

He said the FDA needs more sophisticated computer systems and, perhaps, additional scientists to identify foods that might be at risk for contamination and in need of stricter inspection.

He said he is also studying whether the FDA needs to ask Congress for expanded legal authority, new regulations and more inspectors - potential changes that lawmakers are already considering.

So, these are things that might happen, but haven’t yet. So why is it safe now?

“Globalization of food is here. It’s here to stay. We need to acknowledge that and make sure food coming to the United States is as safe as we can make it,” Acheson said in a telephone interview, one of the first he has conducted since taking on the new post on Tuesday.

I have an idea. I don’t want the food coming into our country to be “as safe as we can make it,” I want it to be safe. Call me crazy.

Investigators suspect that Chinese suppliers of two pet food ingredients, wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate, spiked them with melamine in order to boost their value. Investigators also believe that the industrial chemical, not approved for use in food, killed at least 16 pets by working in combination with melamine-related compounds.

First of all, those weren’t “pets,” they were dogs and cats in Menu Foods’ test labs. Since anyone paying even remote attention can see there are thousands of dead pets, let’s at least go with the AP’s “unknown numbers” of dead pets.

Here’s where my head exploded:

Acheson said the search for the pet food contaminant is “virtually closed” and investigators have a “very good handle” on its distribution. Government officials say the threat to humans is extremely low.

See? I told you, it’s all over.

Inspectors are redirecting their efforts into checking all vegetable protein shipments from China and visiting American importers to test ingredients and make sure the firms know who made them.

But why? It’s all over. Everything’s safe!

Acheson said hiring more inspectors might help prevent future scares, but the FDA will never have enough manpower to examine all food supplied by 150,000 registered food makers from abroad.

“Right now, we inspect 1 percent of food imports. If we were to inspect 2 percent, would that problem go away? I don’t think so,” he said.

Nothing like a positive attitude going in. And remember: your cats and dogs were killed and sickened by a scare. A scare that is costing Americans between $2 and $20 MILLION DOLLARS in vet bills.

The government attempts to target the riskiest foods for close monitoring, but the failure to identify wheat gluten for attention suggests that more needs to be done to find the right targets, Acheson said.

Ya think?

Acheson said the FDA wasn’t planning to establish a database for collecting reports of injuries to pets, a demand of pet owners that Acheson said veterinarians are considering.

He also questioned whether it would be beneficial to create a system for monitoring the safety of fresh vegetables, similar to one that ground beef producers established after an E. coli outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants in 1993.

Instead, he said, more research is needed to identify points in the food production cycle where contamination is most likely to occur. Then, methods could be developed to prevent problems from arising.

Of course. Good. Don’t do anything constructive or proactive or useful. Instead, let’s do more research. Excellent.

No comments:

Volunteers Needed! Get food off shelves...,,,, and have joined together to ask for your help.
Update 6-10: Recalled food was purchased from a
California store on 5-29th – this stuff is still out there!
We need Volunteers to help get recalled food off store shelves. Read this post at Spocko’s Brain for instructions. Print a list (or two) on this site. Visit stores, then report safe stores here at

Printing Information:
1. Print the main FDA Pet Food Recall page – this will be handy to show retailers who haven’t heard anything about the recall. (3 pages)

2. Print the list of 14 Major National Brands - it includes flavors and date information where applicable so you can tell if specific products for these brands have been recalled. The brands are: Alpo Prime Cuts, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover’s Soul, Doctors Foster and Smith, Eukanuba, Gravy Train, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, Jerky Treats, Lick Your Chops, Mighty Dog Pouches, Natural Balance, Nutro, Pounce, Royal Canin. (It’s 7 pages and includes FDA contact information.)

3. Print the List of All Brands – it will remind you what products have been recalled - but it does not give you date and flavor information, there is just too much to put in one document. (7 pages, but the 7th page is links to more detailed information so you don’t need to print it)

If you want, and are going to a store that you know has store brands that have been recalled (such as Walmart), go to that recall information at the links on the summary or at the FDA site and print it out. Some of the information is formatted in ways that make it difficult to read (one of the main reasons for this site), but it’s better than nothing.

Note: The FDA is the official source for all recall information and recalled products. This is an unofficial volunteer effort to help get the word out and get recalled foods off of shelves. We’re doing the best we can but can’t guarantee these lists are completely accurate. Again, here is the official recall site: