Saturday, December 12, 2009

U.S. Food Safety System In Serious Disrepair

More than 50% of food manufacturers are unaware of their legal obligation to provide the FDA with updated contact information that the FDA relies on to deal with emergencies, such as Salmonella or other forms of food contamination. According to a Report released yesterday by The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, federal auditors found that approximately 48% of surveyed manufacturers failed to provide the FDA with accurate contact information and approximately 25% provided no emergency contact information at all.
The GAO Report explains:

Each year, more than 300,000 Americans are hospitalized and 5,000 die after consuming contaminated foods and beverages. In the event of an outbreak of a foodborne illness, FDA is responsible for finding the source of the contamination and helping to remove the contaminated food products from the food supply chain. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness involving peanut butter, peppers, and spinach have raised serious questions about FDA’s ability to protect the Nation’s food supply.

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 requires certain food facilities to register with FDA. The purpose of registration is to provide FDA with sufficient and reliable information about food facilities. This information enables FDA to quickly locate facilities during an outbreak of foodborne illness and to locate these facilities for inspection.

FDA requires each domestic food facility to provide information for the registry, including (1) contact information (i.e., name, full address, telephone number, and all trade names under which the facility conducts business); (2) contact information for the parent company; (3) contact information for the owner or operator of the facility; and (4) an emergency contact telephone number. If there is a change in a facility’s information, such as a new name or address, the facility must provide FDA with the updated information within 60 days. The information provided by facilities is stored in a database called the FDA Unified Registration and Listing System .....



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