"Suit Could Chill Government Efforts To Keep Food Safe"

"A major fruit company's lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration could have a chilling effect on regulators' efforts to get tainted food off the market. Florida-based Del Monte Fresh Produce is striking back at the FDA with a lawsuit after the agency halted imports of its Guatemalan cantaloupes, saying they may be contaminated with salmonella. Such a lawsuit is extremely rare, and the threat of litigation could make officials more reluctant to tell the public about the possibility of contamination in food."

"'If this case is successful from an industry perspective, it will change the attitude of regulators,' said former FDA assistant commissioner David Acheson, now a food safety consultant. 'They will obviously be more reluctant.'

Michael Doyle, the director for the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia who has advised the FDA on food safety issues, said the lawsuit could set a dangerous precedent."

Mary Clare Jalonick reports for the Associated Press August 31, 2011.

Source: AP, 09/01/2011