Serious sanitary problems were found by FDA inspections at nearly half of all facilities that package fresh spinach since 2001, a report released yesterday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed. However the report also found that the FDA did not take "meaningful" enforcement action in response to these problems, according to an article in the Washington Post.
The report showed that facilities were inspected about once every 2.4 years when they should've been visited at least once a year.
Improper conditions discovered by the FDA at spinach-packing facilities included inadequate restroom sanitation, litter piles, and indoor condensation posing a risk of food contamination by microorganisms. In addition, some Inspectors found buildings vulnerable to rodents and workers with uncovered hair and poor hygiene, according to the article.
The report says that the FDA did not refer the problem facilities to its internal enforcement authorities, and it didn't send warning letters or seek injunctions.
Twenty serious outbreaks of E. coli have been traced to fresh lettuce or spinach since 1995.
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