Electronic portal speeds identification and investigation of potential health hazards in human food industry.
More than 100 food safety reports were submitted by industry to the Food and Drug Administrations new electronic portal in its first months of operation, the agency reports. Mandated by Congress, the Reportable Food Registry is a new system that requires manufacturers, processors, packers and distributors to immediately report to the government safety problems with food that are likely to result in serious health consequences.
The FDAs new reporting system has already proven itself an invaluable tool to help prevent contaminated food from reaching the public, says Michael R. Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods.
A report summarizing the registrys first seven months of operation (September 2009 to March 2010) finds that it logged 125 primary reports initial reports about a safety concern with a food or animal feed (including food ingredients) and 1,638 subsequent reports from suppliers or recipients of a food or feed for which a primary report had been submitted, from both domestic and foreign sources. These reports help FDA and the food industry locate hazardous foods in the supply chain and prevent them from reaching consumers.
Among the 125 primary reports, Salmonella accounted for 37 percent of hazards, undeclared allergens or intolerances accounted for 35 percent, and Listeria monocytogenes accounted for 13 percent. Among the 11 different commodity categories involved were: 14 animal feed or pet food, 12 seafood, 11 spices and seasonings, and 10 dairy products. Because the registry has been operational for only a short period, it is too early to draw inferences concerning patterns of food and feed adulteration.
Industry is increasingly detecting contamination incidents through its own testing, and FDA access to this information permits us to better target our inspection resources and verify that appropriate corrective measures have been taken, Taylor notes. Ensuring that the American food supply is safe is a top priority of the FDA, and the Reportable Food Registry strengthens our ability to help prevent foodborne illness.
Under legislation enacted in 2007 that created the registry, industry must report foods or feeds that present a reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals to the FDA within 24 hours. The law does not apply to infant formula or dietary supplements, which are covered by other mandatory reporting systems. The registry does not receive reports about drugs or other medical products, reports about products under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or reports from consumers.