October 6, 2020

What Is Happening to FDA and USDA Food Recalls?

If you have been a longtime reader of Food Poisoning Bulletin, you may have noticed that food recalls have decreased substantially in the past few months. The USDA has issued three recalls since January 24, 2020: One was issued on February 8, 2020, and two were issued on April 10, 2020. The FDA has had more recalls, with seven in the month of April 2020 (including three recalls for enoki mushrooms as part of a Listeria Monocytogenes outbreak), but that is far below normal. What is happening to FDA and USDA food recalls?

What Is Happening to FDA and USDA Food Recalls?

Food Poisoning Bulletin contacted the USDA about this. issue. This was their response: “To answer your question about recalls for products under FSIS’ regulatory jurisdiction, a recall is a firm’s voluntary removal of distributed meat, poultry, or egg products from commerce when there is reason to believe those products are adulterated or misbranded under the provisions of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), or Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) and those products remain in commerce and available to consumers.

“Over the last few years, FSIS has pushed for more accountability from industry to produce safe and wholesome products. Through numerous calls, meetings, roundtables and guidance documents we are proactively engaging with industry on ways to reduce products that must be recalled and we are seeing the results of these efforts.

“Industry is acting faster on potential situations that may result in adulteration of products, in some instances using electronic means to control and hold products in their distribution chain to prevent them from reaching the consumers. FSIS reviews the actions of the firms and assesses each situation on a case-by-case basis. If FSIS finds that the products are not under control and they are available for sale, then the agency requests the firm to recall the product.”

There have also been issues with the FDA. Last week, 54 new recalls were published on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. We started working on publishing those recalls and noticed that the original issue dates were all in 2018. So we contacted the FDA.

They said, “Thank you for reaching out. You are correct these postings were in error as we are still working on the fairly recent system migration.” The old recalls were removed over the weekend, but have been reposted occasionally.

So what is going on? We really don’t know if these issues are related to the COVID-19 pandemic affecting corporations and staffing. We also don’t know if foods that should be recalled are being recalled. All we can say is to make sure that you follow good food safety rules in your kitchen to keep your family safe from foodborne illness, especially in this difficult time.

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