The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has begun the process to make changes to its policy of releasing the names of retailers where products affected by food recalls due to outbreaks that could result in illness or deaths have been sold.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that the changes they seek to implement are necessary to improve consumer safety.
“When we learn that potentially dangerous food products may be available in the U.S. marketplace, we must move quickly and efficiently to remove these food products from the market,” said Gottlieb.
The FDA recognized the importance of consumers having actionable information that they can use to avoid potentially contaminated food products.
The agency has not traditionally released lists of specific retailers where recalled foods may have been purchased.
This is because certain supply chain information is confidential between the supplier and retailer. Moreover, in most cases, information publicized by the recalling company is sufficient to allow consumers to identify and avoid recalled product.
The FDA explained that when a food recall is initiated, they work with companies to publicize labeling information, product descriptions, lot numbers, as well as photographs and geographic or retail-related distribution information.
The aim is to enable consumers to identify whether they have the recalled product and take appropriate actions.
However, they recognize that in some cases, when the food is not easily identified as being subject to a recall from its retail packaging and the food is likely to be available for consumption, the key to protecting consumers is to make available to the public additional information about the retailers selling potentially harmful product.
“Providing retailer information can help consumers more quickly and accurately recognize recalled product and take action to avoid the product or seek assistance if they’ve already been exposed,” said Commissioner Gottlieb.
The FDA issued new draft guidance that describes situations when disclosing retail information for products undergoing recalls is appropriate. The agency will seek comments on the practice to gauge support for the policy. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The draft guidance outlines the circumstances when the FDA intends to make public the retail locations that may have sold or distributed a recalled human or animal food.
These circumstances will particularly apply in situations associated with the most serious recalls, where consumption of the food has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.