USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) this week began posting more information than ever before about foreign food safety audits.
Helena Bottemiller at Food Safety News, who had been pressing for greater transparency, reports today that USDA has been conducting fewer of these audits in recent years:
During the Bush administration, in-country audits generally happened annually, but, according to data provided to Food Safety News by FSIS earlier this month (which were posted online Wednesday), the number of in-country audits has dropped dramatically under the Obama administration.
Online documents show that from 2001 to 2008 FSIS inspectors were routinely evaluating, in-person, the foreign plants processing meat for American consumers. The number of countries audited annually, with only one exception (in 2006 there was a large drop in audits), was between 25 and 32, so FSIS was auditing an average of 26.4 countries per year. From 2009 to 2012, however, the number of countries audited annually dropped to between 3 and 20, so FSIS was auditing an average of 9.8 countries per year.
Food Safety News
has released an interactive illustration of the data. Hover over a particular year to see the countries audited that year.