200405 Poisoned fruit: The rising consumption and waning regulation of imported produce

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:30 AM

Elanor Starmer , Food Program, Food & Water Watch, San Francisco, CA
Background: U.S. consumption of imported fresh produce has doubled in the past 15 years, but inspection has not kept pace with this increase. Although imported produce is three times more likely than domestic to contain Salmonella bacteria, and imported fruit is four times more likely to contain illegal levels of pesticide residues, less than one percent of imported produce is inspected by the federal government.

Methodology: The study is based on an analysis of longitudinal trade and produce-consumption data from the USDA; a policy analysis of regulations governing imported produce; and an analysis of the frequency and scientific results of FDA inspections of imported produce.

Results: The presentation will show that food safety regulations and practices related to imported produce are insufficient and that, given the contamination record of the shipments that are inspected, the regulatory deficiencies threaten the health of U.S. consumers who eat imported produce.

Importance: This study is the first to analyze the increased consumption of imported produce in the context of U.S. food safety regulation in order to draw conclusions about the implications for public health.

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze the trend in U.S. produce importation and its impact on the American diet over time. 2. Compare the current policy regime governing U.S. produce imports to alternative policy proposals. 3. Describe the health risks presented by imported produce compared to domestically produced fruit and vegetables.

Keywords: Food Safety, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Senior Policy Advocate with over 15 years experience analyzing and advocating on food safety, trade, and economics issues in Washington, DC.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.