Washington, D.C.— Following news of the USDA’s recent decision to recall nearly 170,000 pounds of imported pork products overlooked for inspection, Food & Water Watch today urged the Obama administration to reject any trade programs such as the Trans Atlantic Trade Partnership (TPP) or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would expedite food imports from other nations. The national advocacy organization also called on the USDA to improve the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Public Health Information System (PHIS) in order to ensure that tainted meat imports never reach the U.S. supply chain.
“FSIS has announced 10 recalls since 2013. What’s particularly disturbing is that some of the food eventually recalled had been in the U.S. food system for a year before it was discovered,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “FSIS needs to get its act together and improve the PHIS before U.S. consumers are exposed to any more dangerous food imports.”
Implemented in May of 2012, the PHIS was advertised as providing better coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection so that inspections would be conducted in a more efficient manner. Instead, the exact opposite has happened. By contrast, there were only four recalls of imported products that bypassed USDA inspection during the eight years of the Bush administration.
As the Obama administration and Congress stand poised to rush new trade deals such as the TPP and the TTIP into effect that would lead to more food imports, these latest recalls, combined with the ongoing failures of the PHIS, raise serious concerns for food safety advocates.
“If we can’t seem to handle the current load of imports on our metaphorical plates, what does that say for FSIS’s ability to handle the uptick in imports that is sure to occur through these new trade deals? The TPP and the TTIP will only exacerbate the problems in an already flawed food import inspections system,” said Hauter.
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.