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FDA Shakedown

It is no surprise, but in a recent conference call Dr. David Acheson, M.D., FDA’s Associate Commissioner for Foods, finally fessed up to the way FDA’s “not implicated” list is set up.

Being that life offers only two possibilities, either one is “implicated” or one is “not implicated,” a consumer is likely to think that a place NOT included on the “not implicated” list is, in fact, “implicated,” Dr. Acheson went to great pains, in a press conference, to explain that this is not so.

In fact, in Dr. Acheson’s words, the list consists solely of states or regions that have “come to us” and made a case for exclusion.

One wonders if Dr. Acheson is aware of how horribly inept this is. Every time that list changes, it causes consumer confusion. It also typically means a failure has already occurred that cost somebody money.

We ran a piece in which it was detailed how Subway’s supplier had to put its Hawaiian restaurants, which purchase Hawaiian grown tomatoes, under a ban for ten hours until FDA added Hawaii to the “safe” list. But there was never the slightest possibility that Hawaiian tomatoes were implicated.

Now, FDA has announced that Oklahoma tomatoes are also not implicated.

Each time the list is changed, it is a news story and causes consumers to be newly concerned about tomato consumption.

Besides, why should some farmer or hot house grower’s livelihood depend on his ability to persuade his state department of agriculture to take up his cause in DC?

Basically it is a recipe for a shakedown. Farmers go hat-in-hand to state legislators asking for help, and those legislators turn to the farmers with palms outstretched looking for campaign donations.

The industry would do the work for free and put together a great list of the very few areas that could be implicated in this outbreak. Everyplace else belongs on the “not implicated” list, and the FDA should be ashamed to publish a list that inherently and falsely implies that other areas are under suspicion.

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