FDA Unveils Electronic Food Registry


After critics went after the slow response of the Food and Drug Administration to alert the public to recalls in 2007, the FDA began discussing ways to implement a faster way to get information out. The result is an electronic food registry, which allows companies to report potential food-borne illnesses to the government.

According to the report, facilities now have 24 hours to notify the FDA of any contaminants they find that may sicken people or animals. A senior adviser to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says this will allow the FDA to catch the problem before people get sick. In the past they have notified consumers only after there have been reports of illness. If companies do not report outbreaks within 24 hours, they may face injunctions, fines, or other unspecified punishment. However, it has been noted that companies have voluntarily submitted reports of outbreaks before the new system was set up.

Under the new program, all food and animal feed companies will be required to send reports. Makers of supplements and baby formula already report contaminants to the FDA under another electronic program.

The new program stems from the want of consumers after salmonella outbreaks involving several products, such as peanut butter, spinach and cookie dough. A poll by Pew Charitable Trusts showed nearly 90% of likely voters want new food-safety measures from the federal government and over 80% believe the government should be responsible for ensuring food is safe.