Salvaged Food:

Lessons Learned from the Americold Fire

RCED-95-76: Published: Mar 8, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 24, 1995.

Additional Materials:


John W. Harman
(202) 512-5138


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the events surrounding a fire at a food storage warehouse in Kansas, focusing on the: (1) disposition of food salvaged from the facility; and (2) lessons learned from the incident that could be used to improve regulation of the food salvaging industry.

GAO found that: (1) over half of the affected food was destroyed and the remaining 102 million pounds of food was released to the public after Kansas determined its salvageability; (2) about 3.7 million pounds of food was shipped to a salvager on the basis of laboratory results furnished by a consultant who was under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); (3) although no illnesses were attributed to the food salvaged from the Kansas fire, potential public health risks were increased by shortcomings in FDA regulation of salvaged food; (4) FDA did not share important information with Kansas regarding its past problems with the consultant and his laboratories; and (5) FDA did not provide Kansas with guidance on food sampling controls that would have been useful in its oversight of the salvaging.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: FDA disagrees with the conclusions and recommendations in the report and has no plans to implement this recommendation. Therefore, GAO recommends that this be closed.

    Recommendation: FDA should more actively assist states in managing food salvaging operations following major disasters. At a minimum, FDA should ensure that: (1) the information it has about a private food testing laboratories and key personnel is communicated to state officials responsible for monitoring food salvaging operations after a major disaster; and (2) these state officials are made aware of FDA guidance for maintaining the integrity of the food sampling process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Food and Drug Administration


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

May 7, 2020

Apr 13, 2020

Dec 23, 2019

Dec 6, 2019

Nov 12, 2019

Oct 28, 2019

Sep 9, 2019

Jul 25, 2019

Jul 11, 2019

Jun 21, 2019

Looking for more? Browse all our products here