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Florida company sues FDA over recent product recall

Incidents of product recall could be affected by a lawsuit brought against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by Del-Monte Fresh Produce. The lawsuit could hamper FDA efforts to remove dangerous products from the marketplace to prevent consumer illnesses.

Del Monte Fresh Produce, which is based in Florida, sued the Food and Drug Administration after it stopped Del Monte from importing cantaloupes grown in Guatemala. Though the produce company voluntarily performed a recall, the FDA halted the import of Guatemalan cantaloupes that were suspected to be tainted with salmonella bacteria.

Lawsuits against the FDA are rare and could put consumers in danger. It is plausible that the threat of lawsuits could make agency officials reluctant to alert the public about contaminated food. A former commissioner at the FDA said that if the lawsuit was successful, it would certainly have an impact on the attitude of government regulators.

If this lawsuit moves forward and is successful, could it set a precedent for the timing of future food recalls? If federal agencies hesitate to pull tainted products from the shelves, more consumers could fall victim to illnesses.

The cantaloupes in question were linked to 12 different cases of salmonella poisoning. The Florida company imports cantaloupes from several different locations; Guatemala cantaloupes count for more than 30 percent of those imports.

Whether the produce is food, cars, or baby cribs recalls are intended to prevent further injuries to consumers. Unfortunately, even with timely recalls injuries and illnesses can still occur. When this happens, victims of dangerous or defective products can seek compensation through a products liability lawsuit.

Source: Post Bulletin: "Lawsuit could chill food safety regulations," Mary Clare Jalonick, Sept. 6, 2011

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