Food imports overwhelm FDA safety net, INN collaborative investigation finds

The rising number of food imports into the United States is overwhelming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is tasked with inspecting much of the seafood, fruits, spices and other food items shipped from abroad, a collaborative investigation by two Investigative News Network members has found.

FairWarning’s reporting found many concerns with the FDA import inspection system. The FDA today rejects about the same number of shipments of foreign food as it did a decade ago – when imports were less than half the current level.

The Food and Environment Reporting Network drilled down more closely on seafood, finding that though the FDA and some other federal agencies inspect a portion of imported seafood, the safety net still doesn’t catch all of the potentially diseased or unsafe food. The FairWarning story also was published by some McClatchy newspapers and other INN members, and the FERN story was picked up by Medium. The stories were based on data from the FDA showing food imports and rejections from 2002-2012 and analyzed by the Investigative News Network.