Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-39) 47 pp

September 2008

Food Safety and Imports: An Analysis of FDA Import Refusal Reports

This report examines U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data on refusals of food offered for importation into the United States from 1998 to 2004. Although the data do not necessarily reflect the distribution of risk in foods, the study found that import refusals highlight food safety problems that appear to recur in trade and where the FDA has focused its import alerts, examinations (e.g., sampling), and other monitoring efforts. The data show some food industries and types of violations may be consistent sources of problems both over time and in comparison with previous studies of more limited data. The three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6 percent of total violations), fishery and seafood (20.1 percent), and fruits (11.7 percent). Violations observed over the entire time period include sanitary issues in seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables, and unregistered processes for canned food products in all three industries.

Keywords: Food safety, adulteration, food imports, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sanitary issues, pesticides, canned food processing, import refusals, trade, misbranding, labeling, shipment, violation

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Last updated: Tuesday, September 09, 2008

For more information contact: Jean C. Buzby, Laurian Unnevehr, and Donna Roberts