To pick up slack from the undersized/overwhelmed CPSC, states are stepping up to help increase toy safety locally. New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois and California have been taking “aggressive measures,” from suing manufacturers to escalating state recalls to the federal level. Newsday describes how New Jersey worked with charities and educators during toy drives to make them aware of recalled toys. The state also assigned 15 state inspectors to a toy safety task force, and over the past month, the inspectors “fanned out across the state with assistance from county health department workers to test products and check for recalled toys.
Today, an advisory panel to the FDA will present its findings developed over the past year. The result is “a scathing review of the state of the FDA” that says it’s “so underfunded and understaffed that it’s putting U.S. consumers at risk in terms of food and drug safety.”
Today the White House will announce its own plan for how to tighten the country’s slack product safety practices. The proposal is being offered as an alternative to the one Congress has come up with, which the White House—along with industry trade groups and Consumer Product Safety Commission head Nancy A. Nord—think is too mean to manufacturers.
The White House version suggests stationing inspectors in other countries to inspect goods before they are shipped to U.S. shores, because “with $2 trillion in imports annually, inspections at the ports had become ineffective.” We’re not sure how the math works on that one—unless sharks or pirates consume large amounts of imports during transit, the same number of goods leave foreign ports and arrive at ours, and having inspectors all in one place where they can work together, instead of spread out in each foreign country, seems a more efficient use of resources. But we’re probably just stupid from too much lead.
Russia has banned the import of chicken and pork from 30 U.S. facilities in the wake of a midsummer audit. Russia has not disclosed what, if anything, the audits uncovered, according to a concerned spokesman from the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council.
All of the banned poultry plants were major suppliers of U.S. poultry to Russia and are some of the most efficient facilities in the country, the export council said.
Investigators from the House Energy and Commerce Committee spent two weeks snooping around China and probably haven’t eaten since. Their investigation revealed a tattered regulatory framework, unable to protect Chinese citizens, let alone foreigners. Among the disturbing facts uncovered:
The Administration envisions a future where science and technology keep our food supply safe and secure. The multi-agency working group tasked with improving food safety has yet to agree on final recommendations, but both interest groups and the Administration seem dead set against new inspectors. Instead, the working group wants to build upon the current system of random inspections to better target potential dangers among the $2.2 trillion worth of goods imported each year.
Seventeen days after Topps launched the second largest meat recall in U.S. history, the 67-year-old company announced that it’s going out of business. Topp’s COO told American Agriculturist:
“In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large… We want to thank our loyal employees and customers who have supported us throughout the 67 years in which Topps Meat has been in business,” D’Urso said. “Topps has always prided itself on providing the utmost quality and safety and never had a recall in our history until now. This has been a shocking and sobering experience for everyone.”
This summer, almost 6 million pounds of beef were recalled due to E. coli contamination. Last week, almost 22 million pounds of frozen hamburger meat were recalled after reports surfaced of E. coli infections. It was the biggest meat recall in 10 years, and “the American Meat Institute (AMI) says it noticed a slight rise in positive E. coli tests by the government this summer,” says a USA Today article. In fact, 2007 is the first time in 3 years that the rate of positive USDA sample-tests have gone up. At the same time, the Chicago Tribune reports that in July, a congressman from Minnesota slipped a special measure into the 2007 farm bill that would reduce the need for federal inspections for small meat producers.
Inspections will not keep Americans safe from potentially dangerous foreign imports, according to a Presidential working group representing 12 federal agencies. The working group believes that the sheer number of products arriving at our ports – goods worth $2 trillion, last year – make the development and deployment of an inspection regime impossible. The alternative inspires little confidence.
New York Decries CPSC's Inability To Impose Mandatory Recalls, Announces Initiatives To Combat Lead Poisoning
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is taking action to ensure the prompt removal of recalled products, responding to the CPSC’s unwillingness to ask for, or accept, the authority to impose mandatory recalls. The following proposals do not require approval by the Legislature, and will go into effect immediately:
From now on, the TSA would like you to remove any XBOXs (or DVD players or Nintendos, etc…) from your carry-on during screening so they can be inspected. [USA Today]
Two weeks before announcing the recall of nearly 1 million toys tainted with toxic lead paint, Mattel was featured in the New York Times as a role model, the “gold standard” for companies manufacturing goods in China. The Chinese Poison Train’s ability to sneak past Mattel’s fortified defenses highlights the tremendous difficulties faced by well-meaning American manufacturers trying to police their supply chains. Mattel spared no expense to ensure the safety of their products.