FDA Wants to Station Inspectors Worldwide

June 5, 2008
FDA hopes to improving the quality of food imported into the U.S.

The FDA intends to post inspectors to embassies and consulates throughout the developing world in hopes of improving the quality of the food and medicines increasingly flowing into the U.S.

Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach said the agency needs “boots on the ground” in places such as India and China. The FDA already sends inspectors to dozens of countries each year to inspect pharmaceutical plants and clinical trial sites, but this would be the first such inspections of food products. And for other products, von Eschenbach said he wanted the agency’s presence to be “ongoing and continuous basis rather than episodic and periodic.”

The inspectors would primarily “build capacity and bring others in to do inspections that are certified,” the commissioner said.

In recent years, as more food and drugs have been produced abroad for sale in America, the FDA has been less able to ensure the products’ safety. The agency inspects less than 1 percent of imported foods.

Von Eschenbach did not elaborate on the plan nor announce a timetable.