The USDA’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) shut down at the end of 2012. The cost-effective program tested produce for pathogens. Why would USDA shut down a program that’s cheap and effective?
The MDP started in 2001 and was designed to collect data on the prevalence of pathogens in produce. When bacteria was detected in the tested produce, the data was reported to the FDA and recalls were issued. However, the main purpose of the program remained providing data about contamination rates of produce.
The largest proponents of shutting down the Microbiological Data Program are the lobbyists for the produce industry. They have argued that the food industry can perform its own testing. While that’s true, the food industry performs very little testing for pathogens. The information is not collated in a central database so that food safety procedures can be reconsidered and updated as necessary.
With the MDP gone, we will need to rely on the corporations to keep the consumers’ best interests at heart.
The FDA also tests for pathogens, but at a much lower rate. With the shutdown of the MDP, only 20% of the testing will continue.
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