Some dairy processors are expressing shock at what one plant manager calls the "gross incompetence" of FDA personnel currently conducting newly mandated HACCP inspections. One manager, who asked to remain anonymous, told Dairy Foods that neither he nor any of the others in the company have ever seen anything like it.

"In all my years of working in a food processing plant I have never had an inspection last more than an eight hour period of time, (but) this one is now at day eight and counting. Another new experience was having an inspector ask us to show them how to read a recording chart," the manager said.

Alan Sayler, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association, has received similar complaints from members, and attributes the problems to a lack of training for FDA's new HACCP inspectors.

"We as an industry worked very hard to provide HACCP training for plant operators, but unfortunately, we haven't seen that effort mirrored by FDA," he said.

Saylor said industry personnel get a minimum of three days of training, but to his knowledge, FDA training consists of a single four-hour video training session. He said HACCP inspections are more complex than regular safety food safety inspections, and intensive training is necessary. The plant manager who contacted Dairy Foods agrees that a lack of training is the problem.

"The inspector is not at fault, the person responsible for their training is. If any of the FDA people that we have worked with over the years saw what was going on in their name they would be appalled," the manager said.

IDFA met with FDA regulators May 27 to convey their concerns. Dairy plants that produce 100% fruit juice must receive HACCP inspections under legislation signed in 2001.