The nation’s only produce surveillance program did not survive the first term of the Obama administration. When it did exist, USDA’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) used to conduct 80 percent of all federal produce testing for foodborne pathogens.
The program paid labs at Land Grant universities to test local produce as it came out of the ground. The national budget for the MDP did not top $5 million, a hardly noticeable amount in Washington D.C.
But from the moment it began during the first Bush administration, the fresh produce lobby wanted the MDP dead. It was too successful, working as a “tripwire,” interrupting fresh produce distributions whenever dangerous pathogens were discovered.