As consumers, we rely on the Food & Drug Administration to inform us about contaminated foods in the marketplace. But just how good is the FDA’s current recall system?
The ability of the agency to assure the timely removal of tainted edibles from store shelves has been called into question. The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a preliminary report that concludes:
“Our ongoing audit of FDA’s food recall program found that FDA did not have an efficient and effective food recall initiation process that helps ensure the safety of the of the nation’s food supply.”
“Specifically, FDA did not have policies and procedures to insure that firms or responsible parties initiated voluntary food recalls promptly. As a result, consumers remained at risk of illness or death for several weeks after FDA was aware of a potentially hazardous food in the supply chain.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut reacted to the findings by referencing last year’s recall of cucumbers containing salmonella. According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 907 people were infected–204 ill enough to be hospitalized–and six died (although in two cases, the CDC reports that “salmonella was not considered to be a contributing factor.”) The outbreak occurred in July. So Rep. DeLauro wanted to know why it took until September before the producers began recalling the contaminated cucumbers: “Delays like this one and others found in the report are completely unacceptable and leave American consumers at risk for illness and death.”
To find out what is on the FDA recall list right now, go to