Header graphic for print
Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

China fires eight top regulators over milk scandal – Can anyone recall when the US did the same?

According to press reports, eight senior China food regulators were fired for "slack supervision" in a tainted milk scandal that killed at least six children and sickened over 300,000. High-ranking regulators in the country’s major food supervisory agencies, including the ministries of Health and Agriculture and the top food safety watchdog, were stripped of their positions and their membership in the Communist Party. Regulators in the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the State Food and Drug Administration were also punished. Last September, the chief of the General Administration of Quality Supervision and Quarantine and two high ranking officials in the city of Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu was based, were dismissed or stepped down.

Help me here.  Can anyone recall anyone ever being fired in the US – in local, state or federal government – after a major foodborne illness outbreak?  Frankly, I can not recall any corporate leader being canned after his or her product sickened or killed?

No one was fired in 1993 at FSIS or at Jack in the Box after E. coli O157:H7-tainted burgers sickened 650 and killed four.  No one lost their jobs at the CDC or FDA for bungling the 2008 the tomato – right – pepper Salmonella outbreak that sickened over 1,200.  What about the Con Agra E. coli O157:H7 outbreak of 2002 and then its Salmonella outbreaks of 2007 in peanut butter and pot pies?  What about the ongoing Salmonella peanut butter fiasco that began in September but was not figured out until hundreds were sickened, many hospitalized and nine died? 

Remember, 76,000,000 of us are poisoned by food every year in the US and no one looses their jobs?  When ever were "[US] food regulators … fired for ‘slack supervision.’"  When was a CEO ever shown the door.  Get the picture?  As my teenager would say – "like – never – Dad!"

Perhaps it is time to follow China’s example?

  • Kathleen in NYS

    Well, that Westland/Hallmark slaughterhouse went out of business, at least. What burns me, Bill, is how the USDA’s coding system makes all potential Mad Cow/v-CJD recalls a Class II recall. Class II recalls do not put people on high alert because supposedly all our untested cows cannot possibly have Mad Cow Disease, which is ridiculous. The Westland/Hallmark fiasco with downer cows being abused and ground up into burgers delivered to the National School Lunch Program was only a Class II recall. That needs changing!

  • John Munsell

    As long as USDA/FSIS regulators continue to swear allegiance to the “DEREGULATION” basis of HACCP, they need not fear a pink slip. Deregulation runs the show now, to the delight of USDA and the large slaughter establishments. The only USDA/FSIS employees who fear for their jobs are those who stand up and speak the truth. Their days are numbered. John Munsell