While the meat industry is required to follow rules set down by the Department of Agriculture for processing and slaughter, produce is not subject to similar regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of fruits and vegetables.Saturated fat and hot fudge, anyone?
The agency has little regulatory authority over the produce industry and has fewer than 2,000 inspectors for more than 12,000 facilities, 250 inspectors fewer than in 2003. The Agriculture Department has 7,600 inspectors for 6,000 facilities. F.D.A. inspectors do not inspect farms unless there is a problem.
Produce-related outbreaks of disease rose to 86 in 2004, the latest year for which there is data, compared with 29 in 1997, when the states started electronic reporting to the Centers for Disease Control.
Dec 7, 2006
Maybe it's time to give up vegetables altogether
NY Times: Growing peril on path to plate.