Some private U.S. laboratories are under investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for withholding samples of tainted food and allowing importers to continue to bring their contaminated products into the U.S., the Chicago Tribune reported last week. A letter by the Congressional committee to the labs suggests that importing companies pressured them to toss out results that failed Food and Drug Administration standards. “We’re gathering information from both the FDA and private industry about the labs almost being complicit in helping importers game the system,” investigations subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told the Tribune. “Someone told us you pay for the result you want to get from the labs.”
Earlier this year, CEO David Eisenberg of Anresco Laboratories, a private lab that tests imported food, told the subcommittee that private labs sometimes withhold negative test results. “If the importer tells us not to submit the information to the FDA, the FDA never sees it,” Eisenberg testified. “We are not employed by the FDA, and the FDA has no authority over private labs that are generating imported-food test results, so we have to follow the advice of our customer.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest is supporting a bill currently in the House of Representative that urges increased government regulation of food safety testing. The bill allows the FDA to give third-party certification to private labs only if they uphold FDA standards for testing.
(Thank you to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI; (www.cspinet.org) for this story)