Following the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) final issuance of its report on FDA food recall practices, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., is voicing concern. The OIG report looked at FDA food recall practices from October 1, 2012 to May 4, 2015. Its findings are obvious in the report’s title: The Food And Drug Administration’s Food-Recall Process Did Not Always Ensure the Safety of the Nation’s Food Supply.
“Specifically, we found that FDA could not always ensure that firms initiated recalls promptly and that FDA did not always (1) evaluate health hazards in a timely manner, (2) issue audit check assignments at the appropriate level, (3) complete audit checks in accordance with its procedures, (4) collect timely and complete status reports from firms that have issued recalls, (5) track key recall data in the RES [Recall Enterprise System], and (6) maintain accurate recall data in the RES,” according to the OIG report.
Food Safety Tech first reported on the draft findings in June 2016 when the OIG said the FDA recall initiation process was not efficient or effective. Although Gottlieb noted that the agency took action after the draft was released, “we still have more work to do,” he said in an FDA statement.
One of the action steps for 2018 is that FDA will issue guidance on recall communications in the first half of the year. The agency is also looking at situations in which it can assist consumers in getting information about the stores and food service locations that may have sold or distributed recalled food, as well as the company that supplied the product.
“Much work remains to be done if we’re going to provide the highest assurance of safety.” – Scott Gottlieb, FDA
Gottlieb stated that the agency will be revealing more early this year about policy steps it will be taking to improve food safety oversight and how the recall process is implemented. FDA is also examining how it can expedite the timeliness and scope of information provided to consumers about food recalls.