The Food and Drug Administration is under fire from the Office of Inspector General for inefficient and ineffective food recall procedures that left the public at risk for as much as six months after the agency knew there was a problem.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to review FDA’s recall activities, but an “early alert” issued Wednesday left little room for doubt that changes are needed.
“Specifically, FDA did not have policies and procedures to ensure that firms or responsible parties initiated voluntary food recalls promptly. This issue is a significant matter and requires FDA’s immediate attention,” according to OIG’s early alert.
“We suggest that FDA update its policies and procedures to instruct its recall staff to establish set timeframes for: 1. FDA to request that firms voluntarily recall their products and 2. firms to initiate voluntary food recalls.”
The OIG staff looked at 30 domestic and imported food recalls from October 2012 through May 2015. Two recalls related to Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks in 2013-14 involving nut butter and cheese products, respectively, are specifically cited in the OIG report.