Foreign Food Inspections Decline as Illnesses From Imported Goods Rise

"NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Inside a warehouse near the Canadian border, boneless hams bound for Philadelphia are coming off a tractor-trailer from Toronto under the gaze of a federal food inspector. Each week, about 20 of the 150 food trucks from Canada are rejected because of paperwork problems or contaminated meat."

"While Congress spared meat and poultry inspections by the Agriculture Department from the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, inspections at foreign food factories have been in decline because of years of budget cuts, and border inspections like this one in New York may be eliminated.

The Food and Drug Administration, which inspects everything but meat and poultry, is struggling to find the money to inspect foreign foods under a new food safety law that Congress did not support with enough funds. The Obama administration's 2014 budget calls for an increase in agency financing, but the most money would come from fees that the food industry and Congress oppose. Lawmakers in March did approve an additional $40 million in one-time financing for the agency to put the new law into effect, but food safety experts say more money will be needed."

Ron Nixon reports for the New York Times May 7, 2013.

Source: NY Times, 05/08/2013