New Food Safety Laws Lead to Consumer-Friendly FDA Product Recall Page
A new website has been launched by federal food safety regulators, which will allow consumers to easily search for products to see if they have ever been recalled.
The FDA announced the new recall information web page on Monday, in an effort to meet requirements for more consumer-friendly access to recall information called for by President Barack Obama.
The site provides a product recall search engine and a table of recently-recalled products that tells the name, date, product description, reason the item was recalled and has a link to details and photos.
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The website is part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law late last year. The new law is considered the biggest change in food safety oversight in 70 years.
In addition to calling for more open consumer access to product recall information, the law will also allow the FDA to force companies to issue recalls when they suspect food may be contaminated. FSMA will also greatly increase the agency’s ability to perform inspections on both foreign and domestic manufacturing facilities.
The FDA was required by the law to provide a more consumer-friendly recall search engine within 90 days of passage. The agency will also have to classify every recall as ongoing or completed.
“Recalls, mandatory or otherwise, are serious and we must do everything possible to make it easier for people to know about these recalls so they can take all appropriate steps to protect themselves and their families,” said Mike Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, in a press release. “We encourage people to check out our new recalls search page for themselves, and use it whenever they have a question about a recall.”
There are approximately 76 million foodborne illnesses each year in the United States, according to a report released in June, “Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration,” which was requested by Congress. Those illnesses cause more than 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually.
For the FDA to properly regulate an estimated 80% of the nation’s food supply, the agency’s food safety departments need to be restructured to fit a risk-based approach that coordinates data and expertise to quickly find the weak links in the food production and distribution chains where contamination and other problems are most likely to occur, analysts said in the report.
The changes are designed to allow the agency to more quickly and efficiently target the problem areas with the necessary resources and increase its chances of catching dangerous, and sometimes deadly, food outbreaks before they occur.
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