July 24, 2024

FDA Launches Safety Strategies Starting with Onions and Enoki

The FDA has launched new food safety strategies to help protect the public, starting with onions and enoki mushrooms and wood ear mushrooms. Those products have been linked to several food poisoning outbreaks in the last few years, including the deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms in 2020.

FDA Launches Safety Strategies Starting with Onions and Enoki

There was also a Salmonella Stanley outbreak in 2020 linked to wood ear mushrooms that sickened at least 55 people. Before these enoki and wood ear mushroom outbreaks, the FDA was not aware of outbreaks liked to those products in the last 20 years.

The 2021 Salmonella Oranienburg outbreak linked to onions sickened more than 1,000 people. And theĀ 2020 outbreak of Salmonella Newport linked to red onions sickened 1127 people.

The enactment of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011 has led the agency to investigate more outbreaks than any other time in the history of the country. Scientists know more than ever about the contributing factors that cause food contamination and how the FDA, state and local health departments, and the food industry can work together to stop this contamination.

Two outbreaks linked to bulb onions in 2020 and 2021 caused more than 2000 confirmed illnesses in the United States. The onions were imported from Mexico and grown in this country. The FDA has identified several measures that can be taken to reduce future outbreaks, including prioritizing inspections of bulb onion farms covered by the Produce Safety Rule, identifying and assessing practices associated with onion curing, and supporting research to study the impact of soil conditions on bulb onion safety.

For the outbreaks linked to imported enoki and wood ear mushrooms, the FDA wants to ensure that exporting firms are aware of applicable Produce safety rules. Food safety authorities in Korea, China, Canada, and Japan should be engaged to better under stand the potential sources of contamination in these mushrooms, and what producers are doing to prevent contamination.

These strategies focusing on onions and enoki and wood ear mushrooms are just the first of the strategies the FDA will release over the next year focusing on foods that have been linked to outbreaks. These strategies build on the FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety, which is the prevention framework created by FSMA.

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