The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must immediately require grocery stores to post notices alerting their customers to food recalls in order to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The group today told Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor that in-store notification is critical to protecting the health and safety of consumers who may not otherwise learn about recalled food products.
A survey of CSPI members found 98 percent believed grocery stores should provide information on recalls with most wanting signs posted at the location at the site of the recalled product.
The 2011 FSMA law set specific deadlines for FDA action on recall notices that the agency has ignored, CSPI said, leaving many consumers in the dark about recalled products they may have in their homes. Stores that sold Blue Bell ice cream implicated in the recent outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes would be posting notices on the freezers where it was sold if the law were being implemented as Congress intended.
Currently, FDA posts recall notices on its website, which may or may not get picked up by the media.
“It’s past time for FDA to finish work on this important notification system,” said CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett. “Consumers need recall information in the place they are most likely to see it and that’s at their local grocery store. Few people ever visit the FDA website to learn about recalls.”
FSMA required FDA to identify conspicuous locations in grocery stores for posting recall notices by January 4, 2012, and to inform food manufacturers about what information they were to provide on recalled product by July 4, 2012. Other than conducting one public hearing and issuing a request for public comments, the agency has not moved forward to implement the program.