In a report released Wednesday, the department’s inspector general found that a lack of resources is forcing the FDA to lean more heavily on its counterparts at the state level to inspect plants responsible for everything from packing to processing foods.
More than half the agency’s inspections were done by state officials in fiscal 2009, up from 42 percent four years earlier, according to the report. If these inspections are not done properly, they can expose consumers to sometimes life-threatening illnesses.
A deadly salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut processing plant in 2009 occurred after the plant had been inspected several times by state officials working on the FDA’s behalf. The incident prompted Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to ask Inspector General Daniel Levinson to examine the FDA’s oversight of its state partners.
Wednesday’s report confirms several weaknesses in that relationship, almost all of which the FDA acknowledged were indeed problems. “The report documents glitches we’re aware of. . . . These are things we are working on,” said Mike Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods.