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FDA hails Reportable Food Registry success

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 29-Jul-2010

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has collected 125 food safety reports through its Reportable Food Registry in its first nine months of operation, the agency has said.

The registry was created by legislation that passed through Congress in 2007, mandating that industry reports within 24 hours any food or feed that could cause serious adverse health consequences or death for humans or animals. In a report released yesterday (Wednesday), the agency said that it had logged 125 primary reports of safety incidents in food and feed ingredients, and a subsequent 1,638 reports from recipients of those foods and ingredients from September last year to the end of March, 2010.

In a conference call with reporters, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods Michael Taylor said that the first seven months had been “a success story” as part of the agency’s overall prevention strategy.

In terms of how the industry has responded to the electronic registry, he added: “The industry is taking it very seriously. They know it is a legal duty.”

Acting deputy director of the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response Kathy Gombas said that of the 125 reports there was one that had resulted in an adverse event in which four family members had “an allergic-type reaction”. However, she underlined that all the other food safety reports also had the potential to lead to such events.

Taylor said: “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. 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.”

The FDA highlighted two recalls in particular that were flagged up through reports filed with the registry: The February 2010 recall of hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) from Basic Food Flavors, in which more than 1,000 products were reported by industry, resulting in 177 products being removed from grocery shelves; and a November 2009 recall of products containing sulfites but not labeled as such. There were more than 100 reports regarding the inadvertent use of an ingredient containing sulfites in side dishes that were then removed from distribution, the FDA said.

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