Meanwhile, she said that six of 39 farms used animal manure on their fields, with four using cow manure and two using either horse, sheep or goat manure. Five of six farms who used manure composted and only one reported testing manure.
“Some of them didn’t know the microbial quality of their soil amendments,” she said McKenna said 33 or 34 farms had worker training relating to hygiene, and 26 of 39 monitored employee hand washing.
At one farm, human feces was observed in a field, she said.
Foreign inspections showed 14 out of 39 farms had farm or domestic animals in or in the vicinity of the field, but only two out of 39 used animals in the field. Four out of 39 had commercial feedlots in the vicinity, McKenna said.
Dave Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., said he would have liked to hear about the domestic farm inspections as well. “I don’t know if they would have been much different at all, but I just don’t know,” Gombas said.
McKenna said in an e-mail that the FDA has no position on the relative safety of foreign grown versus domestically grown produce. She said there are good and bad examples on each side.