Four initiatives by the private sector to improve food safety are called out for recognition in the 5th Annual Reportable Food Registry Report, which has been submitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Guidance on Environmental Monitoring and Control of Listeria for the Fresh Produce Industry: A guidance document was published by the United Fresh Produce Association with the intention of reducing the risk of Listeria monocytogenes in fresh and fresh-cut produce.
- Allergen Resources for the Baking Industry: The American Bakers Association published an online list of resources to assist in the identification and management of potential food allergens.
- Spices and Seasonings Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Guidance: The American Spice Trade Association published GMP guidance as well as Principles of Physical Cleaning guidance to help ensure the production of clean, safe spices for consumers.
- Cantaloupes and Netted Melons Guidance: Developed by a broad, national coalition of industry stakeholders and government representatives, the “National Commodity-Specific Food Safety for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons” working group published online guidance to help ensure food safety in cantaloupe production.
- The Reportable Food Registry (RFR), which was mandated by Congress, includes data from its first five years, covering the period from Sept. 8, 2009, to Sept. 7, 2014. It serves as an early warning tool for public health risks from reportable foods.
The FDA report states that information from RDR submissions during the reporting period helped protect public health by leading to a nationwide recall of ready-to-eat salad products due to Listeria monocytogenes.
It also led to three import alerts and increased import screening for lead in imported noodles and undeclared milk in imported chocolates. Almost half of the RFR reports for Year 5 related to undeclared allergens and most of those involved bakery products.
“Allergen mismanagement is largely avoidable by industry and often results from errors in labels and ingredient lists,” the RFR report states. It suggests more education resources to help manufacturers in controlling the hazard.
In the document, FDA notes that while the number of reportable incidents has gone down, industry is more familiar with the process now and is more cooperative with follow-up activities.
The RFR received 909 reportable food entires in Year 5, including 201 primary reports about a safety concern over food or animal feed, including specific food ingredients.
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