New report indicates not enough done to ensure food safety

Hadas Kuznits
January 17, 2019 - 1:35 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A consumer watchdog group has put out a new report showing increasing threats to U.S. food safety. 

A new report from the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, titled "How Safe is our Food?" points to widespread problems with the U.S. food safety system. Viveth Karthikeyan, the consumer watchdog for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said they found a 10 percent increase in recalls between 2013 and 2018. 

"The USDA has increased recalls for the most dangerous meat and poultry by 83 percent. So, nearly doubling the recalls for dangerous meat and poultry, likely to cause a health hazard or be deadly," Karthikeyan added. "It’s pretty shocking. It’s a pretty dangerous trend."

He says one of the reasons behind their findings has to do with some archaic laws that allow contaminated food to get through the cracks of the inspection system. That allows the food to make it onto store shelves.

"It's currently legal to sell salmonella-contaminated meat," he said. "Another problem we identify is you can currently spray E. coli-contaminated water onto our produce" — which he says is what led to last year’s romaine lettuce recall.

Viveth Karthikeyan (left) and Dr. Amanda Micucio discuss findings of a report at Thomas Jefferson University Jan. 17, 2019, which shows increasing threats to U.S. food safety.
Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

When asked how that's legal, he said: "We don't really know, but we do know that we can call on our government officials to make that change. It seems like a pretty good one."

Karthikeyan says he doesn't know what impact the partial U.S. government shutdown will have on food safety.

"The government is continuing to do inspections of the highest-risk facilities for the FDA and continuing to do inspections of all U.S. facilities,"he said. "But the more important thing is that, even when inspections are happening, there are still risks in our food safety system."