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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Federal inspectors (USDA) told to ignore moldy food at local plant

Chris Ingalls of Seattle’s King 5 News does a great job of telling a story where once again, one agency (USDA) charged with food safety is ignoring it to move product along and also not communicating with another agency (FDA) which is also charged with food safety.


I was interviewed for the story too, and either wound up on the cutting room floor, or there is a second part.

  • Minkpuppy

    Bill, I hope they run the second part tonight so you can post it.
    This is unfortunately all too common–god forbid the Agencies should step on each other’s toes ( or jurisdictions as the case may be). Even FSIS inspectors have to deal with this in dual jurisdiction plants. If it’s FDA product, we’re supposed to stay out of it unless it’s intermingled with USDA products and possibly causing cross-contamination. Sounds like these inspectors were told to worry only about the school lunch products and look away when the plant diverted the bad applesauce to other customers. *sigh*

  • Jeff Almer

    This conduct is shameful, shocking, and maddening. I think Manager Doug Oxborough needs to resign his position if this situation is correct. He certainly did not earn his government paycheck. Perhaps he is on the payroll of Snokist management that were not concerned with their customer’s health but only their pocketbooks.
    Once again it begs the question: How much of that yummy applesauce is in Snokist managements refrigerator? Possibly they do have some to use as drain cleaner.

  • Carl Custer

    Sigh, USDA is a Department of many Agencies.
    Which Agency was ignoring mold on apple sauce?
    I suspect it was AMS in charge of grading, not safety.
    The Department in charge of apple sauce food safety, HHS, has several agencies. One Agency, FDA, finally got around to visiting the plant and using information from the AMS? inspector, took action . . . yea!
    Still, the USDA grading Agency should have done a better job of communicating the mold risk to the HHS food safety Agency.
    Hopefully Secretary Vislack and Secretary Sebelius will get their people together and develop a better means of inter-Department communication between their Agencies.
    When I worked for FSIS (A USDA Agency) I often exchanged information with my FDA colleagues (A HHS Agency) regarding food safety issues to promote the myth of a government monolith. Yeah, it’s a myth.

  • Carl – seems like what prompted this was sick kids and then a traceback.

  • doc raymond

    Bill, you are in the video I watched

  • Minkpuppy

    Carl and Doc Raymond,

    I’ve never understood why FDA doesn’t just give FSIS the go ahead to retain FDA product if we see anything hinky going on. Sometimes we can mention something to our supervisors but we never know if it got passed along to FDA, othertimes the FDA inspectors are at the plant the next day. It really seems to depend on what the circumstances are, how bad it is and who’s making the call to FDA around here. The impression I got from my co-workers is that we don’t touch FDA product unless FSIS product is involved also. That approach was learned from somewhere. I don’t think it’s necessarily our current supervisor’s viewpoint but I definitely got that it was something that was historically done and it’s just continued.