Stop Foodborne Illness applauds FDA’s new policy to better inform consumers about retailers selling recalled foods
The new FDA policy permits the FDA to inform consumers as to which retailers may carry foods that have been recalled due to contamination by pathogens causing foodborne illness. According to the FDA’s announcement, the agency “has not traditionally released specific retailers where recalled foods may have been purchased. This is because certain supply chain information is confidential between the supplier and retailer.”
With its new policy, the FDA can and will decide to publicize lists of retailers—known as retail consignee lists—identifying retailers potentially carrying a recalled product, when doing so better protects consumers from purchasing potentially harmful foods. These lists could include online retailers as well as “brick and mortar” stores.
“Detailed information about the identity of recalled products and where they are being sold can be a matter of life and death for consumers,” said Lauren Bush, Board Co-Chair of Stop Foodborne Illness and a survivor of an E. coli outbreak in 2006. “There is much more to be done by government and industry to improve recall communications and effectiveness, but we appreciate the step FDA is taking to disclose the identity of stores that received recalled product.”
“Commissioner Gottlieb’s announcement is an important step in the right direction,” said Michael Taylor, Board Co-Chair of Stop Foodborne Illness and former FDA Deputy Commissioner of Foods. “We look forward to better understanding the scope of the FDA’s new policy and monitoring its implementation to be sure consumers get information they can use to protect themselves from recalled foods.”
The FDA acknowledged that while typically the information released to the public—labeling information, product descriptions, lot numbers, photographs, geographic distribution and information voluntarily provided by retailers—is adequate to allow consumers to identify and avoid the recalled product, there are situations where the names and locations of retailers carrying the product need to be publicized to better protect consumers from foodborne illness.
The FDA specifically mentioned situations where the recalled food—intended for either human or animal consumption—is not easily identified from its retail packaging, such as foods sold directly to consumers without a UPC or bar code. Examples include deli cheese, nuts, rawhide chews, or pet treats sold in bulk and fresh fruits and vegetables sold individually.
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