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First Annual Report Posted for the Reportable Food Registry, FDA’s Early Detection System for Potentially Dangerous Food Products

Food Basket

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition - Food and Drug Administration

January 21, 2011

2,240 entries into the Reportable Food Registry (RFR) help speed identification and investigation of potential health hazards in human food, animal feed and pet food

The first annual Reportable Food Registry Report shows that, as Congress intended, the RFR can help FDA track patterns of food and feed adulteration and target FDA’s inspection resources to identify adulterated food/feed and prevent foodborne illnesses.

“This report is a measure of our success in receiving early warning on problems with food and feed,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor. “The data in this report represents an important tool for targeting our inspection resources, bringing high risk commodities into focus, and driving positive change in industry practices – all of which will better protect the public health.

The RFR is a relatively new system that requires manufacturers, processors, packers and holders (warehousers, distributors, etc.) of FDA-regulated foods/feeds to quickly report to FDA safety problems that could result in serious health consequences to humans or animals. Reportable food submissions provide early warning to FDA about potential public health risks from reportable foods and increase the speed with which the agency and its partners at the state and local levels can investigate the reports and take appropriate follow-up action, including ensuring that the reportable foods are removed from commerce when necessary.

The report summarizes the Registry’s first year of operation (September 8, 2009 – September 7, 2010) and finds that it logged 229 primary reports – initial reports about a safety concern with a food or animal feed (including food ingredients); 1,872 subsequent reports from suppliers or recipients of a food or feed for which a primary report had been submitted; and 139 amended reports to correct or add information to previously submitted reports. Reports were received from both domestic and foreign sources.

Among the 229 primary reports, Salmonella accounted for 37.6 percent of hazards, undeclared allergens/intolerances accounted for 34.9 percent, and Listeria monocytogenes accounted for 14.4 percent. The primary reports involved products in 25 commodity categories. The report draws the attention of the food industry to the RFR data on two particular hazards:

  • Salmonella in spices and seasonings; raw agricultural produce; animal feed/pet food; and nut and seed products; and,
  • Allergens/Intolerances in bakery goods; dried fruit and vegetable products; prepared foods; dairy and candy.

The report notes that these RFR findings have spurred efforts to improve preventive measures in affected commodity areas, both by industry and FDA, and have helped the agency better target its inspection and sampling activities.

The report includes an analysis of primary reports involving foods and ingredients from international sources, finding that the number was relatively small. Because FDA believes this may be, in part, the result of a lack of awareness of the RFR and its requirements by many foreign food facilities, the agency plans to focus more of its RFR outreach efforts on the international arena during 2011.

As Deputy Commissioner Taylor points out, regarding the RFR data, “Several key U.S. industries are already re-evaluating their hazard and preventive controls, core principles of the Food Safety Modernization Act recently passed by Congress. We also anticipate improved reporting as we continue our vigorous outreach to food facilities through federal, state, local and foreign agencies, to help us expand the positive effect of the RFR on the safety of the U.S. food supply.”

The report, entitled, The Reportable Food Registry: A New Approach to Targeting Inspection Resources and Identifying Patterns of Adulteration—First Annual Report: September 8, 2009 – September 7, 2010, is available.

For additional information, see the Reportable Food Registry