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US: Food and Drug Administration to beef up mandatory food recalls

The US Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to make greater use of its mandatory recall authority. The goal would be  to quickly remove unsafe food from the shelves.

Since 2001, Congress has given mandatory recall authority to the FDA as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Mandatory recalls can be issued after companies fail to comply with voluntary ones.

"Fortunately, most companies collaborate with the FDA to rapidly initiate voluntary recalls of hazardous food products," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, in a press release. "However, we've seen cases where companies don't voluntarily agree to issue a recall of food products that are violative, even if the food products are reasonably likely to cause serious illnesses or death. To me, this is unacceptable."

In a new document, the FDA spells out situations in a question-and-answer format, including listing examples when the FDA would consider using its mandatory recall authority for products consumed by people and animals.

Whether to issue a mandatory recall involves food or feed that will cause "serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals." This includes information from FDA inspections, foodborne outbreak data, high-risk groups affected as well as consumer and trade complaints.


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