In a blow to food safety, a new report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general found that the Food and Drug Administration was failing to properly follow food recall procedures and protocols.
To make its determination, the IG sought to evaluate the FDA’s food recall process for efficiency and effectiveness. HHS reviewed the documentation for 30 voluntary food recalls selected from 1,557 food recalls that were reported to the FDA between 1 Oct. 2012 and 4 May 2015.
While the IG had reviewed FDA’s recall process before, the evaluated period for this latest report came after the agency received new authority to require food companies to initiate recalls (2011 Food Safety Modernization Act).
“We identified deficiencies in FDA’s oversight of recall initiation, monitoring of recalls, and the recall information captured and maintained in FDA’s electronic recall data system, the Recall Enterprise System (RES),” the HHS said in a 22 December press release accompanying the report.
In several cases, the HHS found the FDA failed to act in a quick manner when dealing with food producers, and that the agency did not have the personnel to follow-up with companies that had initiated a voluntary recall of food products.
According to the report, the median days for the FDA to finish conducting all audit checks after the firm issued its recall communication was 69 days (with an average of 118 days and a range of 22 to 547 days).
For 11 of the 30 recalls, FDA either did not request or did not collect status reports. [source]
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