Make Our Food Safe

New FDA Report Shows Salmonella Remains Top Microbial Threat

Salmonella continues to be the top health hazard reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to new information from the agency.

The FDA data also reveals an increase in reporting contamination problems with fresh produce and seasonings.

The second annual report on the Reportable Food Registry (RFR) outlines findings from the FDA program that requires domestic and foreign food manufacturers to disclose potentially dangerous foods that have entered U.S. commerce. Reportable food submissions provide an early warning to the agency about possible public health risks and, as a result, enable the FDA and its partners to take action more quicky.

The RFR was originally established in legislation enacted in 2007. It has been updated under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to now require responsible parties to take further steps to warn consumers of potential risks, such as posting information in grocery stores about recent contamination cases.

Salmonella contamination prompted 38.2 percent of this year's industry disclosures, while undeclared allergens accounted for 33.3 percent and contamination from Listeria accounted for 17.8 percent. By contrast, in the RFR’s first year, Salmonella contamination accounted for 37.6 percent, undeclared allergens 30.1 percent and Listeria problems 14.4 percent of the reportings.

According to the FDA, reports of contaminated produce rose to 27 in the second year from 14 in the first. This rise is attributable to improved analysis at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, RFR entries for Salmonella in spices and seasonings increased to 23 this year from 16 in the last. However, new guidance developed by the major U.S. trade association for spices is expected to have a positive effect on reducing health risks from this commodity group, according to the agency.

The FDA notes the RFR findings have spurred efforts to improve preventive measures in affected commodity areas, both by industry and the agency, and are helping the agency better target its inspection and sampling activities.