Meat Counter

A recent investigation conducted by Food Safety News found that USDA inspections of foreign meat imports to the U.S. have declined by more than 60 percent since 2008.

Additionally, the agency’s transparency has waned in recent years as well, failing to “make audit reports public in a timely fashion.” According to the investigation, as much as 17 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported from more than 30 countries, but “From 2009 to 2012, however, the number of countries audited annually dropped to between 3 and 20.”

According to Food Safety News: “So far in 2012, the agency has completed 10 audits, but the agency began auditing Canada on Oct. 22, so presumably that brings the total to 11. FSIS officials would not say how many more audits, if any, were scheduled through the end of the calendar year.

“As of Monday [October 29, 2012], FSIS had not posted audit reports for all of the countries it audited in 2010, nor had it posted any information about which countries were audited in 2011 and 2012, telling Food Safety News that the reports were still under review. Sometime in 2009 the agency also stopped including plant audits in the reports posted online. On Wednesday, the agency updated its foreign audit page to include a handful of draft country audit reports as well as notes about which audit reports are still pending.”

The report comes on the heels of two Bloomberg Markets reports that found scores of seafood imports from countries including Vietnam and China that were contaminated with pig feces, and another citing the decline of agency-conducted safety inspections within the U.S.

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Image: Anthony Albright