Wednesday, April 25, 2012

FDA's Reportable Food Registry Report Provides Important Insight into Food Supply Issues

The FDA just released the second annual report for the Reportable Food Registry, RFR.

The Reportable Food Registry is an electronic portal where food companies report issues with a food where that food is likely to cause illness. So if Company A ships nuts to Company B, and Company B tests those nuts and finds Salmonella, then by law, Company B must report this incident to the FDA via the Reportable Food Registry.

This has been a great tool in keeping unsafe food out of commerce. It allows FDA to use industry information to police the food supply chain.

Industry professions can see an important aspect of this RFR report is that it indicates where in the food system issues have occurred. Accordingly, companies who purchase products can look at this list and find issues with products or ingredients they use and then ensure these items are addressed through HACCP or a supplier control program. Here are some examples (Table 6) – undeclared allergens in bakery products, Salmonella in nuts, spices/seasonings, and produce, Listeria in prepared foods and dairy. Reports on Imported foods (Table 13) shows a slight increase from year 1 to 2 in total recalls, but certainly an increase in the number of Salmonella related issues coming in on imported foods. 

It is also important to note that the RFR can put companies at risk of being pulled into a recall. This was the case last year when Salmonella was discovered in hydrolyzed vegetable protein. And even with companies whose process rendered the ingredient as no risk (these companies were going to put the HVP into a product that was to be cooked), they still recalled product. Traceability is paramount in being able to quickly respond to a supplier issue that gets reported to FDA by another company.

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