The New York Times has published an analysis today of foods and goods uncovered and/or rejected by the FDA (that 'we inspect less than one percent' agency...) by country.
India and Mexico:
At a time when Chinese imports are under fire for being contaminated or defective, federal records suggest that China is not the only country that has problems with its exports.
In fact, federal inspectors have stopped more food shipments from India and Mexico in the last year than they have from China, an analysis of data maintained by the Food and Drug Administration shows.
According to a graph put together by the NYT, based on FDA data, here are some stats:
|Country||Shipments Turned Away||Most Frequent Violation|
Carl R. Nielsen, former FDA Director of the Division of Import Operations and Policy: "The reality is, this is not a single-country issue at all, What we are experiencing is massive globalization."
What we are experiencing is massive globalization.
The F.D.A. database does not necessarily capture a full and accurate picture of product quality from other countries. For one thing, only one year of data is available on the agency’s Web site, and F.D.A. officials declined to provide more data without a formal Freedom of Information request, a process that can take months, if not years.
In addition, the F.D.A. inspects only about 1 percent of the imports that fall under its jurisdiction. So the agency may miss many of the products that are contaminated or defective.
An F.D.A. plan to revamp the way it inspects imports, called the Import Strategic Plan, was completed in 2003, but shelved because of budgetary constraints, several former F.D.A. officials said.
What to do? Aside from contacting your Congressperson to ask questions about the FDA's budget and WHY the Import Strategic Plan was SHELVED (and when it will be UNSHELVED???).
Buy local wherever you can:
Buy proven foodstuffs where you can't buy local and buy FAIR TRADE everywhere you can:
- Fair Trade Labeling Organization International
- Fair Trade Certified USA
- Fair Trade Federation
- Fair Trade Coffee (Global Exchange)
- Fair Trade Chocolate (Global Exchange) 
- Fair Trade Resource Network
- Fair Trade Foundation, London
- Fair Trade International Members
Here's a website from the Mandela Project about conflict products:
And here's the link to the NYT story from today.