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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched the Reportable Food Registry (RFR), a new electronic portal designed to head off potential cases of foodborne illness. The portal is part of new federal reporting legislation that takes effect today.
 
The reporting requirement states that facilities that manufacture, process or hold food for consumption in the United States now must tell the FDA within 24 hours if they find reasonable probability that an article of food will cause severe health problems or death to a person or an animal. The portal allows food industry officials to alert the FDA quickly if they suspect an item is contaminated.
 
The reporting requirement applies to all foods and animal feed regulated by the FDA, except infant formula and dietary supplements, which are covered by other regulatory requirements.
 
Improving food supply chain
 
The opening of the RFR electronic portal reflects a fundamental principle of Obama's Food Safety Working Group's statement that "preventing harm to consumers is our first priority," and is a significant step toward implementing that pledge, FDA officials said.
 
Under the new legislation, suppliers are now required by law to report test results that indicate a foodborne pathogen that would lead to serious illness, instead of using the voluntary reporting system, Michael R. Taylor, senior advisor to the commissioner, FDA, said in a conference call with journalists this morning. The FDA and its partner organizations in state and local governments will then determine if the matter presents a significant health concern.
 
"This is a big shift toward prevention," he said.
 
In the past, the FDA typically only learned about a problem when people were sickened by a foodborne illness. The new measure will speed up the reporting and prevention of foodborne illnesses rather than simply investigate it, he said.
 
"By fostering real-time submission to the FDA of information on food safety hazards, the registry enhances FDA's ability to act quickly to prevent foodborne illness," Taylor said. "Working with the food industry, we can swiftly remove contaminated products from commerce and keep them out of consumers' hands."
 
Registry requirements
 
The requirements apply to all responsible parties, or any person who has to submit registration information to the FDA for a food facility that manufactures, processes, packs or holds food for human or animal consumption in the United States. A responsible party is under the following requirements:
  • Must investigate the cause of the adulteration if the adulteration of food items may have originated with the responsible party
  • Must submit initial information, followed by supplemental reports
  • Must work with the FDA authorities to follow up as needed
A responsible party is not required to report the issue if it found the problem before the food was shipped and corrected the problem or destroyed the food.
 
Click here for more information about and guidance for the Reportable Food Registry.

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