May 24, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released the 5th Annual Report for the Reportable Food Registry (RFR), a tool that provides early warning about potential public health risks from reportable foods, and helps the FDA, and its state- and local-level partners, and industry move quickly to remove contaminated foods from the marketplace. The report summarizes data from the Registry’s first five years of operation (September 8, 2009– September 7, 2014).
FDA uses RFR information along with other data to identify key commodity risk points to target public health initiatives. These initiatives include planning and prioritization of inspections, developing guidance, generating sampling assignments, issuing import alerts, and other activities. For example, information from RFR submissions during this reporting period helped to protect the public by leading to a nationwide voluntary recall of ready-to-eat salad products due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination, the addition of three firms to Import Alerts, and increased import screening for lead in imported noodles and undeclared milk in imported chocolates.
Undeclared allergens, typically a leading cause for RFR reports and recalls, triggered almost half of the RFR reports in Year 5. Most of these reports were associated with bakery products. Allergen mismanagement is largely avoidable by industry and often results from errors in labels and ingredient lists. Educational materials about how to identify and manage allergens can help manufacturers in controlling this hazard.
Although the total number of RFR reports in Year 5 is lower than in the previous two years, amended report submissions from industry – designed to update the FDA on reportable food follow-up activities, including root cause investigation results – are increasing, indicating industry cooperation and familiarity with the reporting process. The FDA will continue to work closely with the food and feed industries to encourage more comprehensive reporting by providing informational presentations, webinars, and briefings.
The Reportable Food Registry received 909 reportable food entries in Year 5, including 201 primary reports—initial reports about a safety concern with a food or animal feed (including food ingredients); 464 subsequent reports from suppliers or recipients of a food or feed for which a primary report had been submitted; and 244 amended reports to correct or add information to previously submitted reports.
Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the FDA has issued final rules that will help address many of the food safety problems reported to the RFR by establishing a comprehensive food safety program as mandated by Congress.
For more information:
- Reportable Food Registry At A Glance
- Current and Previous RFR Annual Reports
- RFR On-line Educational Resources
- Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding Food Facility Registration (Sixth Edition)
- Draft Guidance for Industry: Prior Notice of Imported Food Questions and Answers (Edition 3)
- Draft Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding Mandatory Food Recalls