WASHINGTON — As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's efforts to modernize the nation's food safety systems, the agency last week announced that all food facilities must alert the FDA within 24 hours of discovering any pathogens or contaminants in their products that could kill or sicken people or animals. The agency also launched the Reportable Food Electronic Portal and Registry, a new electronic database that will help facilitate compliance with the new rules.
Many food producers already report potential contaminations to the FDA voluntarily. However, in the past, the agency has sometimes received reports of problems only when people began falling ill, and outbreaks became evident. Now, companies that knowingly fail to report potential problems within 24 hours will be subject to fines, injunctions and other punishments.
The FDA, in conjunction with the department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have also launched foodsafety.gov, a new consumer-targeted website that will host critical food safety information from agencies throughout the federal government. The site includes safe food-handling tips and food recall alerts, and will soon offer people a way to subscribe to recall alerts via texting and mobile phone.
“This site focuses on prevention by highlighting the steps both businesses and consumers can take to avoid illness,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.