A tomato grower who claims losses of $15 million has lost his court bid to hold the United States Food and Drug Administration accountable.
There is no doubt that the FDA accused the wrong supplier for food poisonings in 2008, but the judge ruled that the FDA doesn’t have to compensate the farmer for his losses.
“We refuse to place FDA between a rock and a hard place,” wrote Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson for the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.
The FDA issued a warning that an outbreak of Salmonella Saintpaul was caused by contaminated tomatoes, but later it determined that the outbreak was caused by contaminated peppers imported from Mexico.
Seaside Farm on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, sued the federal government, claiming that the incorrect warnings issued by the FDA, beginning in May 2008 and later corrected, cost it $15,036,294 in revenue.
The Fourth Circuit agreed with a trial court that the FDA was acting within its authority to issue emergency food safety warnings based on preliminary information in order to protect public health.
So I get it that the FDA should be able to issue emergency warnings, but I don't get it that they can make a mistake that ruins a farmer's business and not pay a penny in compensation.