Food Tampering:

FDA's Actions on Chilean Fruit Based on Sound Evidence

HRD-90-164: Published: Sep 6, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed several issues relating to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) discovery of cyanide in Chilean grapes, focusing on the evidence FDA used to support its temporary suspension of Chilean fruit imports to the United States.

GAO found that: (1) FDA used proper testing methods and adequately protected fruit samples from being mishandled while they were in its possession; (2) FDA used two widely accepted tests and conducted them in accordance with sound scientific methods; (3) FDA determined that the level of cyanide detected in the grapes was not in itself sufficient to cause illness, but there was a distinct possibility that other fruit could also be contaminated; (4) FDA consulted with officials from several federal agencies, the Chilean government, and the fruit industry about the tampering incident; and (5) indications showed that exports of Chilean fruit to the United States and other countries had not been seriously affected by the poisoning incident.

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