International Produce Training

Bribery Strikes the USDA Again

Well, it happened again. Another story in the news of a USDA Fruit and Vegetable Inspector being charged with soliciting and accepting bribes. This time the bribery activity took place out of the Dallas, TX office.

Unfortunately we hear about these cases too often and the produce industry is quickly losing faith in the honesty and impartiality needed to sustain a credible, independent third party inspecting produce. It was back in 1999 when the scandal at the Hunts Point Market took place and 8 inspectors, including  2 supervisors were arrested, charged and sentenced for soliciting bribes. Following that embarrassment to the USDA, the Training and Development Center was established to set up a uniform training program for all licensed USDA inspectors, including ethics training. Not long after the TDC was established the person in charge was put in jail for misuse of government funds.

In between the Hunts Point arrests and the indictment in Dallas, an Officer in Charge of the Brooklyn, NY office has been imprisoned as well. Something will have to change if the USDA is going to continue being the umpire in produce disputes. During my training classes I am always asked questions about the impartiality of the USDA inspectors, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to defend them as an institution. Granted, there is an appeal process if one party feels cheated or was treated wrongly by the USDA Inspector, but will another inspector actually appeal or overturn the incorrect findings of the original USDA inspector? I don’t know for sure any longer.

You can read about the most recent indictment below.

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