Food Salvage Industry Should Be Prevented From Selling Unfit and Misbranded Food to the Public

HRD-79-32: Published: Feb 14, 1979. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1979.

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In May of 1975, GAO issued a report concerning potentially unwholesome and unsafe food sold by food salvage operations in predominantly poor neighborhoods nationwide. GAO recommended several ways that federal agencies responsible for the safety of foods sold to the public could better control and monitor food operations. Because of the severity and magnitude of the problems discussed in the 1975 report, a followup survey was conducted to determine whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had progressed in regulating the food salvage industry.

No improvement has been seen in the deplorable conditions or the questionable quality of products sold in salvage operations. A majority of the operations visited bought and sold food that was vermin infested or in rusted, leaking, severely dented, swollen, or filth encrusted containers. In many cases, the food products were in containers with missing, misleading, or incomplete labels thereby presenting a threat to people on special diets for such reasons as illness or allergies. In addition, FDA has not developed federal regulations establishing a nationally uniform code for salvage operations and has not established an effective regulatory program to prevent the sale of misbranded and potentially adulterated or potentially unsafe salvaged food to the public and institutions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) should direct the Commissioner, FDA, to: (1) establish a program or strategy for regulating salvage outlets; (2) develop and publish a federal regulation establishing a national uniform code of practice for food salvaging, including guidelines and criteria for transporting, sorting, reconditioning, repackaging, and storing food; (3) require that salvaged food products be identified as such on the label; (4) actively work for the adoption of the Association of Food and Drug Officials regulation in states where it has not been enacted; and (5) reemphasize to federal and state health agencies responsible for inspecting institutions of the potential effects of allowing institutions to buy misbranded or damaged salvaged food products, and provide them with specific FDA inspection guidelines.

    Agency Affected:


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