Mich. fails to inspect dairies, groceries on time

A Michigan agency took too long to check dairies, groceries and food-processing plants for safety — in some cases waiting a dozen years to conduct inspections that the state wants done every six, 12 or 18 months, according to an audit released Thursday.
AP Wire
May 31, 2013

Auditors also found that inspectors were tardy taking follow-up visits to sites with safety violations.

The Snyder administration acknowledged the delays but downplayed the significance, saying no laws were broken.

"We didn't miss the mark on high-risk stuff," said Jaime Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. "At no time have we lost control of the food safety system in the state or put the consumer at risk."

The audit looked at the performance of the agency's Food and Dairy Division from October 2009 through May 2012. Its roughly 100 workers are responsible for licensing and inspecting more than 21,000 dairy farms, grocery stores, food processors, farmer's markets and warehouses.

Local health departments handle inspections of 46,000 restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafeterias and other eateries — which were not covered by the audit.

Auditor General Thomas McTavish flagged the Food and Dairy Division for two "material" violations and four less serious matters. The state agreed with his nine recommendations for improvement.

Of 600 routine inspections of dairy farms, facilities and trucks, 101 — or 17 percent — were 30 or more days late. The state did not schedule 133, or 69 percent, of 192 re-inspections of places with violations worthy of a follow-up visit, according to the audit.

Auditors also said almost half of the routine inspections for 13,200 groceries, convenience stores and other food establishments were not done on time. Nearly 300 had not been inspected in 7 ½ to 12 years.

Adams said long delays are unacceptable, but they typically happened at low-risk facilities — those with prepackaged food — and less in high-risk places like milk and cheese producers. Inspectors were slow to get to 8 percent of high-risk dairy farms and processing plants, according to the audit.

Part of the problem, the agency said, was the retirement of six of 25 dairy workers in late 2010. Some inspections were turned over to the industry so inspectors could focus on enforcement. As of March 1, funding was restored and state inspectors are again responsible for inspecting all dairy farms and facilities.

The state also was short 10 or 11 employees for food inspections, auditors concluded.

Adams, who took over the department last year after the period covered by the audit, faulted a shoddy computer system, saying it is forcing inspectors to waste time resubmitting reports electronically. She hopes to install a new computer program early next year.

Assuming productivity increases, Adams said, she may have a better case asking Gov. Rick Snyder to propose funding to hire more food inspectors.

To see the audit report, CLICK HERE.

Comments

Wingmaster

This is a game..there are inspection happening on a regular basis I know for a fact. The Trib even reported on area violations not long ago. Its a ploy to scare people and sucks money out of the gubmint piggy buckets! I don't believe a word of this article.

LessThanAmused

Master Wing.....I could be wrong of course, but I think the reporting the Trib did a while back had to do with area restaurants and other types of eateries. That is done it seems by a different group according to this line taken from the above article.....

Local health departments handle inspections of 46,000 restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafeterias and other eateries — which were not covered by the audit.

Keep working on the reading comprehension, it really is important to make sure you have read the article a couple times before commenting, particulary these days when the articles themselves are written so poorly.

Wingmaster

True that on different group, but I still am not believing that....Nearly 300 had not been inspected in 7 ½ to 12 years.

The last two paragraphs are really what the article is about, mo money.

The line....As of March 1, funding was restored and state inspectors are again responsible for inspecting all dairy farms and facilities. Soooo, now they have funding like before and before they were not able to get all inspection done!

Keep practicing your inspecting my comments, you may have a future in the Dept. of Ag, I read they may be looking for new inspectors.

LessThanAmused

Cool, can you put a good word in for me? I'd love to have one of those cushy government jobs after wasting 40 years in manufacturing.

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