What's Going On with North Carolina's Milk Industry?
Recent revelations about health inspections are worrisome for consumers.
Don’t freak out, but if you live in North Carolina, your milk might not be up to safety standards.
U.S. News reports that milk inspectors, “showed excessive lenience by not penalizing dairy farmers, processors and transporters after finding hundreds of sanitation violations.”
That means that during inspections, officials found heath code violations, often from repeat offenders, but did nothing to punish them or make sure that they could no longer produce milk under those conditions.
The revelations were documented in a state report released on Wednesday after an audit of the diary producers. Apparently, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which is usually responsible for enforcing sanitation standards, is at fault for letting violations slide.
During the audit, inspectors found “hundreds of problems” at facilities that handle milk, including insects and rodents. Apparently, over a three-year period during which 5,000 inspections took place, only one dairy producer’s permit was suspended, and an actual reason for the suspension wasn’t even given.
The agriculture department is trying to defend itself, saying that The U.S. Food and Drug Administration actually gives the agency high marks.
“None of the findings of the auditor's report demonstrate any imminent threat to public health," Assistant Commissioner Joe Reardon said in a statement.”
However the state report claims the department didn’t just have a problem keeping track of cleanliness, either. It also says that the operation was disorganized and chaotic all-around. While being audited they couldn’t locate over 4,000 inspection reports, lab results, and permits that were supposed to be in their database. Some of the documents were never found, while others were being stored at the homes of the inspectors.
So should you be worried about whether or not your milk is safe? While the findings might seem like a cause for concern, North Carolinians are most likely okay to keep drinking milk. The report doesn’t call for a recall of any kind, but it does show the importance of oversight, even for those who are supposed to be doing the overseeing.
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