8152 – The Smell Test


This is a case about cases of garlic and one which gives us a look, or rather a smell, at how the FDA protects us.  The case got started when a shipment of 6,000 crates of raw purple Spanish garlic shipped from Spain arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico.  The next day an FDA inspector cut open 30 bulbs and found 16 that didn’t pass muster.  Using the ten percent rule, he seized all 6,000 crates of garlic.  The rule is if ten percent of the sample chosen to be inspected is defective, the entire shipment must be detained.  The shipper went to Court, claiming the FDA lacked jurisdiction over fresh vegetables and had not properly published its rules.  There was the strong implication the garlic would’ve gotten by and caused no problems if it hadn’t caught the attention of a nosy food inspector.  A lower court gave the garlic the go-ahead, but the Court of Appeals reversed and said hold the garlic, ordering further hearings.  The only remaining question is what finally happened to the garlic.  Proper procedure would dictate the garlic is still being held as evidence—as for exactly where, well, believe me, someone knows.


Caribbean Produce Exchange v. Secretary of HHS, First Circuit Court of Appeals, Coffin, J., 893 F.2d.