Saturday, June 02, 2007

FDA Closing labs

This is rich! The FDA announced recently that they are planning on closing 7 of its 13 field offices. In a time of heightened security, they are making a decision to outsource inspections of imported goods.

The labs check for compliance with federal guidelines, protect consumers from unsafe, ineffective and mislabeled products, and help investigate public health threats such as product tampering, bio-terrorism, food-borne illnesses and contaminated blood supplies.

Several of the facilities helped investigate the recent pet food scare and E. coli and salmonella outbreaks in spinach and peanut butter. On the heels of these crises, the proposed lab closings have been met with strong suspicion.

Most of the building that will be closed are housed in older facilities whose leasing are expiring. The cost to renovate does not mske sense in these locations. An FDA spokesperson says that all employees can easily be transferred to existing facilities without further expansion. Not all employees are willing to transfer however. Their experience and tenure will be lost to the public sector.

This plan is being met with extreme suspicion. Consumer groups and congress alike are asking why the secrecy? Speculation abounds and many are saying this looks more like an effort to consoidate power at the FDA in DC.