According to the global food source monitoring company Food Sentry, the U.S. was one of the top 10 countries with the most food safety violations in 2013. In 2013, Food Sentry added more than 3,400 verified instances of food safety violations associated with products exported from 117 different countries. The incident data were gathered from multiple sources, including the U.S., the E.U., and Japanese regulatory entities. At the top of the list was India, with about 380 of the incidents identified worldwide. China followed, with about 340; Mexico with 260; France with 190, and the U.S. with 180. Vietnam, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Turkey and Spain round out the top 10. The incidents in the dataset addressed raw or minimally processed foods, including seafood, vegetables, fruits, spices, dairy, meats, grains, and nuts and seeds. Food Sentry also analyzed the source of the problems and found that more than a third of them were due to “excessive or illegal pesticide contamination.” The next main causes of food safety problems were pathogen contamination and excessive filth or insanitary conditions. “Food safety violations are nothing new,” said Food Sentry Senior Intelligence Analyst Zak Solomon. “They’ve just been receiving a lot of attention lately and rightly so. We import from every single one of the countries in the top 10.” To give the data perspective, Food Sentry also points out in its report that no country inspects more than 50 percent of food that it imports, and most of them inspect much less than that. The U.S. inspects fewer than 2 percent of its imported food.

  • SS

    I agree with Fred. The US exports roughly five times as much food as India, three times as much as China, and four times as much as Mexico. It seems like it would be more meaningful to normalize these results based on export volume or number of exported lots per country to compare the likelihood of having a food safety incident in the products from a particular country rather than just the raw number of incidents.

  • overseaschinese

    What’s interesting about this survey is that in the Top 10 list, 3 are considered to be developed countries, and 1 country being the leader in the world.

    Shouldn’t developed countries have better (overall) management for food safety?

    Those who criticise other countries should really consider their actions and current situation in comparison to others.

  • Disagreeing with other commenters.

    China exports more seafood than the US. China and India export more fruit than the US. India exports more beef than the US. Yes, it does.

    Now, we do export more poultry than the other countries, with only Brazil passing us. And we export more almonds, as well as corn. No surprise there.

    I agree that this would be more balanced if it accounted for volume, but we can’t assume that the US is on top in all of this.

    And I would expect the US to have far fewer violations. Brazil is one of the top food exporters across the board in all categories, and it only has 4.1% of the food safety violations. And I think we can safely say it has a less stable environment than the US.

  • AllenLadd

    there is something rather deceptive about including the information that U.S. food safety violations has something to do with the fact that it inspects only 2% of its imported food. That gives the impression that its food safety violations aren’t being generated by factory farming methods in the U.S. As inhumane overcrowding of chickens, hogs and other animals raised in CAFO’s increase, everyone knows so the incidence of disease. As reliance on anti-biotics increases, so do the incidences of new strains of plague outbreaks. Food safety will continue to decline in the United States as corporate farming increasingly muscles out all traditional and organic farming. The last two years show unfortunately the desperation with which factory farming is trying to steamroll over all political opposition. Last year, it was the push to slaughter horses for human consumption abroad despite the well known medical hazards this entails. This week it was trying to flatten public resistance to the hegemony in Missouri of corporate farming under Monsanto and Cargill by passing constitutional amendment to give special legal protection to Big Ag. Evidently, it was not convincing to Missourians for the vote to approve the amendment was in a dead heat tie with those skeptical that food safety would be enhanced by such special protection !

  • FoodLover

    Being an inspector, I would like to remind people that the number of violations a place tallies up means less than what the violations are. For instance, a facility could have sewage flooding the production area– one violation– while another has 10 that all deal with less risky issues like missing ceiling tiles and a dirty floor. Looking at the categories listed, I can see where the categories of regulatory non-compliance (which includes things like documentation and general facility) and “filth” (spanning in severity from dust in the corners to contaminated equipment) are ambiguous and not very telling about the severity of the violation. While the US does have improvements to make, I don’t think that we can make a solid decision based on the information provided here. We need to know the breakdown, by country, the types of violations seen.