Processing Magazine

FDA requires faster food safety reporting

September 10, 2009

Under a new rule designed to help federal regulators spot food safety issues sooner, food makers must alert government officials of potentially contaminated products within 24 hours, reports the Associated Press. The Food and Drug Administration unveiled a new electronic database where manufacturers must notify the government if they believe one of their products is likely to cause sickness or death in people or animals. Regulators said the database will help the FDA prevent widespread illness from contaminated products and direct inspectors to plants that pose a high safety concern. The law creating the database was passed in 2007, after Congress criticized the FDA for it’s handling of safety problems with a range of foods and drugs. The FDA has struggled since then to manage a spate of food-safety recalls, including national outbreaks of salmonella linked to peppers and peanut butter. President Barack Obama earlier this year pledged to improve the safety of the nation''s food supply, after tainted peanut butter from a Georgia plant sickened hundreds of Americans, causing one of the largest food recalls in recent history. Many companies already voluntarily submitted reports about possible contamination, but the new law makes it mandatory. FDA officials also plan to use the database to analyze national trends in food safety and will report their findings to the public. The new reporting requirements apply to all U.S. facilities that are registered with the FDA to process, pack or hold food, with the exception of infant formula and dietary supplement makers, which have separate reporting requirements.