FDFood NewsRadio Interview with Neal Fortin
FDFood NewsRadio Interview with Neal Fortin
Food News

Radio Interview with Neal Fortin

Neal Fortin was interviewed on Los Angeles radio station KNX News on last year’s lead poisonings from contaminated applesauce and on the food safety system in general.

Neal Fortin, Director of MSU’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations (IFLR), was interviewed on the Los Angeles radio station KNX News on March 4, 2024.

Listen to the interview here, or read what he said, below.

Learn how to avoid dangerous and costly mistakes with IFLR’s online graduate course on the FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Rule with Scott Haskell this summer (May 13-June 27, 2024).

Here is what Neal Fortin said about the applesauce contamination case and the US food safety system:

“One of the reasons that this could happen is that the ingredient supply chain is extended. Some of the ingredients were coming from Sri Lanka, they’re going into South America, they’re being processed there and then the products are coming back into the US In the system under the Food Safety Modernization act, the importers are supposed to double check the supply chain. But the longer the supply chain gets, of course the harder it is.

We have multiple layers of failure. The FDA doesn’t have the resources to do enough inspections or sampling. They weren’t holding the importers to the requirements of the law, and what I’m seeing is that a lot of importers are not doing the verification that is required under the law. And then facilities that manufacture food, even in other countries, that are going to be imported into the US are required to have a food safety plan that equals what you do in the US So, you have 3 levels of failure here. The importer was never expected to go back that far to Sri Lanka, but the food safety protection plan put in place in Ecuador should have included looking back through their suppliers.”

“The good news is that most manufacturers really try. They want to produce a wholesome and a safe product. One of the things about our system is that it is really an honor system. Luckily for us most of them really do a good job. Companies that follow the law are looking back, they are doing a verification plan, they are looking at their food safety plans, they are looking at the risk, they are making sure they are taken care of. The problem comes up with the minority that don’t follow the law and are willing to put people at risk.

Some people say the market will take care of that, but we have all of recorded history telling us there will always be people who will exploit the system, including putting people at risk. In the Code of Hammurabi, the oldest written law that we have, if you were caught adulterating the food or the beer, they would put a millstone around your neck and throw you into the Euphrates. We have historical record that throughout recorded history you have to have a regulatory authority who is strong and vigilant enough to check to make sure that the minority of those who will abuse the system will get caught, and it sends a warning to the others not to do it too.”

“There is a new food safety position within the FDA, at least there is a recognition that something has to be done. Part of the problem is that Congress has to appropriate the funds and there’s a constant battle over funding the FDA enough. It sounds like a lot of money when you look at the total amount, but if you and I would just pay a dollar more in taxes we could have a strong FDA. But we don’t, we have a weak, starved FDA, and no matter what do you do if you rearrange everything, you are still limited if you don’t have the resources FDA does tend to do a very good job prioritizing the resources towards the highest risk, but that means you’re cutting out something that is lower risky too.”

Here’s a link to the WanaBanana company’s recall announcement on there FDA website.

Read the New York Times article where Fortin was interviewed on the same topic, here.

Learn how to avoid dangerous and costly mistakes with IFLR’s online graduate course on the FSMA Foreign Supplier Verification Rule with Scott Haskell this summer (May 13-June 27, 2024).

Neal Fortin also covers some of these issues in his online graduate course Food Laws & Regulations in the United States, offered each fall and spring semester.


MSU’s Institute for Food Laws and Regulations offers online graduate courses to food industry professionals. Most IFLR students work full time for food companies or regulators, and take one online course at a time to further their professional development. Students may take as few or as many courses as they desire, and may earn a Certificate in International or United States food law after completing twelve qualifying credits (usually four courses).

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