Helena Bottemiller of Food Safety News reports that the Microbiological Data Program (MDP), which used to conduct 80 percent of all federal produce testing for pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria, officially shut down on December 31, 2012. The $4.5 million program had been in shutdown mode since mid-November.
The produce industry lobbied to eliminate MDP, arguing that it did not benefit public health because the recalls were often announced after the product was expired or already consumed by consumers.
Some food safety advocates, like Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) pushed to keep the program because no other agency is slated to pick up the slack and provide valuable data about the contamination rates of different commodities.
According to an analysis published by Food Safety News last summer, though FDA has jurisdiction over the safety of fruits and vegetables, the agency only conducts a fraction of the microbiological tests that MDP once did.
For more on the now former MDP, see: