The FDA recently announced that they will publicize the names of retailers associated with recalls “where consumption of the food has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.” Previously, they would only release the name of the recalled product rather than specific retailers distributing the product, largely due to confidential supply chain information.
Take a look at five reasons why the FDA is publishing retailers involved in food recalls.
First and foremost, the FDA protects and promotes public health throughout the United States. The FDA’s establishment in 1906 paved the way for preventing foodborne illness, despite its origin stemming from a tetanus-contaminated serum sourced from a horse named Jim, which was then used for vaccines. As such, the FDA’s primary goal is to prevent further tragedies from preventable illness. By publishing the names of retailers involved in a foodborne illness, the FDA will do a more effective job of communicating potential hazards to the public.
2. Identifying Supply Chain Failures
By holding retailers accountable, they have more incentive to monitor failures in their own supply chain. As outlined in a previous post, “digitizing supply chain management for food processing would limit health concerns and impact to businesses, leading to more effective food safety measures.” Because of the complexity in logistics and the number of transfers that occur along the supply chain, identifying specific retail locations will prove challenging. As the FDA gains more experience with identifying supply chain failures, they will in turn improve documentation and communication standards.
Proactive management is the most effective way of preventing foodborne illness. If retailers have greater incentive to prevent a food safety incident, they are more likely to adopt proactive measures. Many of the systems in place today are built off of reactionary strategies, but this does not stop the damage from being done. Moving towards proactive management of food safety incidents will provide retailers with a better means of managing risk.
One of the FDA’s priorities includes assisting food producers in effectively recalling foods that present significant safety hazards. Focusing on better communication efforts during the recall process, specifically the “public warning” as outlined by the FDA, will make it more effective, as consumers will be better equipped to avoid problem foods. Providing more information on the foods that are most likely to transmit illness will further reduce the number of foodborne illness cases.
Lastly, improving transparency during the recall process will help the public stay healthy when a foodborne illness hazard has been identified. The FDA typically restricts retailer information throughout the process, which can prevent consumers from being effective in avoiding the tainted food. Now that the FDA will publish retailers involved in recalls, food service organizations will have to improve their food safety strategies, as a single event can cause irreversible brand damage, and in extreme cases, death.
The FDA is working to improve food safety through more effective recall processes. Communication is imperative for keeping the public safe, and improving transparency will only further this agenda.
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