Uninspected and adulterated beef with a value of more than $1 million was sold to prison institutions in 18 states across the United States, a crime that carries a potential five-year prison sentence. The meat processor illegally used whole cow hearts and went a long ways to hide illegal ingredients from USDA inspectors.
“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.
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.
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