The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a draft of new food recall guidelines that will revise when retail information is released in the event of a food recall. The proposed change would mean the FDA will publicize retail locations that may have distributed products which could cause “serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.” The new rule would also apply to food recalls of products that are difficult to identify based on packaging, such as fresh produce sold individually.
“Knowing where a recalled product was sold during the most dangerous food recalls can be the difference between a consumer going to the hospital or not,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “While we can’t prevent every illness, we can make sure we provide information to consumers to prevent more people from becoming sick from a recalled or hazardous food product.”
The FDA has not historically released the names of retailers who may have been selling recalled foods because of specific information being confidential between retailers and their suppliers. Along with that, identifying the individual retail outlets where potentially contaminated produce has ended up can be a complex process. “It can involve obtaining information from multiple parts of the supply chain, including the recalling company and intermediate distributors. But we also know this information can be very important to consumers,” Gottlieb noted.
There were a significant number of public health warnings related to foodborne illness over the summer. Multiple products were potentially contaminated with cyclospora, including, beef, pork, poultry salads, and wraps. There were also potential salmonella contaminations in whey powder, cereal products, and pasta salads.
The FDA has already shifted toward the new guidelines, releasing information about retailers by state, when there were concerns about pre-cut melons and a potential salmonella contamination. Gottlieb believes the new food recall guidelines will provide more transparency in the food supply chain as well as improve the efficiency of recall efforts.