DeLauro demands faster food recalls
June 10, 2016
Following a Health and Human Services Department Office of the Inspector General report that the Food and Drug Administration does not have policies or procedures to ensure swift voluntary recalls and that 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, D-Conn., said today she will monitor FDA's actions in this area.
DeLauro noted in a news release that a salmonella outbreak caused by cucumbers started in July 2015, but producers did not start recalling the product until September 2015, and cross-contamination was causing people to become sick as late as January 2016. As a result, nearly 900 people fell ill, 191 people were hospitalized, and 6 people died.
"Delays like this one – and others found in the report – are completely unacceptable and leave American consumers at risk for illness and death," DeLauro said. "It is even more astounding that the Food Safety Modernization Act – which I long fought to enact – gives the FDA mandatory recall authority, yet they do not utilize it. The FDA should require producers to recall contaminated food during an outbreak to better protect consumers. This report demonstrates that the FDA's action – or inaction – can have life-threatening consequences for American families. The FDA must make the OIG's recommendations a top priority and act on them immediately. I will be monitoring this investigation closely."
Stephen Ostroff, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in a blog post, "The agency is now expediting changes already under way to strengthen its compliance and enforcement strategies, including voluntary and mandatory recalls. This includes, in individual situations, specifying timeframes for voluntary action by the firm and, if necessary, enforcement action by the agency."
–The Hagstrom Report