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Del Monte’s Recall Lawsuit Against the FDA Could Have a Ripple Effect

Del Monte’s Recall Lawsuit Against the FDA Could Have a Ripple Effect

By Kelsey Murray –

We should be able to trust the FDA to protect us from foods that may not be safe for our consumption, right? I never would have questioned this before, but after Del Monte Fresh Produce recently filed a lawsuit that could have long-term consequences against the regulatory organization, I am starting to have my doubts.

The FDA recently forced Del Monte to halt the importation of its Guatemalan cantaloupes because of the possibility that the fruits were contaminated with salmonella. Then, Del Monte fired back against the FDA with a lawsuit. This all seems like standard operations, but the problem is that in the future, it is possible that the FDA will become more reluctant to issue warnings against possibly-contaminated foods to avoid legal proceedings.

“If this case is successful from an industry perspective, it will change the attitude of regulators,” said David Acheson, the former FDA Assistant Commissioner, at Huffington Post. “They will obviously be more reluctant.”

If this is the case, it could have serious consequences for the health of the general public.

“More often than not the public health authorities and the epidemiologist are correct,” said Michael Doyle, the director for the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. “If you start putting public health officials in the cross hairs of the lawyers it’s probably going to have a major dampening effect on whether foods are recalled in time to prevent a substantial amount of illnesses.”

In March 2011, Del Monte issued a voluntary recall of the questionable cantaloupes after it was determined that the fruits were linked to 12 cases of salmonella poisoning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. Then, in July 2011, the FDA issued an import alert, which stopped the importation of these fruits. Del Monte is filing their lawsuit because they claim that the FDA issued the alert based on “erroneous speculative assumption, unsupported by evidence.”

In my opinion, the FDA is here to serve the general public and should be able to issue any alerts or recalls for foods that are determined to be unsafe for human consumption. However, if Del Monte is correct and the FDA issued its alert without proper information, then the company should be able to file a lawsuit to protect their image.

“That is the difficulty the FDA is dealing with – when do you warn, when do you not warn, when do you urge a recall,” said Fred Degnan, a lawyer who specializes in food law in private practice. “This is a brave new world for FDA and for industry.”

Only time will tell what this lawsuit will mean for the future of the FDA and their regulation policies.

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10:16PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Thank you :)

11:43AM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Whatever happened to "Better safe than sorry"...???

6:45AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

seems like Del Monte doesn't want to keep consumers as safe as consumers expect to be

6:11PM PDT on May 7, 2012


12:18PM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

Hard to know who to trust-the huge bureaucratic agencies entrusted with our care and safety affecting large business, or the huge agribusinesses with so much to lose, who put continuous pressure and influence on the governmental agencies?

12:28AM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

thanks for sharing

4:35PM PST on Mar 6, 2012


12:20AM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Thank goodness the FDA is taking action to protect us from infected produce. Needless to say, of course, if they have the power to issue recalls, they also have the obligation to be as sure as is humanly possible that they are correct -- that the infection exists, that the source is correctly identified, and that the recall is the appropriate action.

All of which is a lot to ask of an agency that is grossly undersized, undermanned, and underfunded. If they're going to protect us, yet not issue unnecessary recalls, then they need more power and more funding. Then they can do the research they need, to stand up to corporate threats.

12:30PM PDT on Sep 10, 2011

wow, that's scary

2:07PM PDT on Sep 9, 2011

We nned the FDA but we need a better one. Cause honestly they are sucking at their job. Approving GMO's and many many other chemicals and toxins it's absolutely ridiculous. If we had a better FDA we could save lives!!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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