Foodborne illnesses linked to fresh-cut produce more than doubled over the course of a year, according to the most recent data reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The third annual report on the Reportable Food Registry (RFR) compiles data that domestic and foreign food manufacturers must submit to the agency about potentially dangerous foods that have entered commerce in the United States. 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 quickly.
The RFR was originally established in legislation enacted in 2007. It was updated under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) 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.
According to the new RFR report from the agency, incidents of contamination associated with fresh-cut produce have risen from nine reports in Year 2 (September 2010 to September 2011), to 23 reports in Year 3 (September 2011 to September 2012). Additionally, raw agricultural commodities (RACs), as defined in section 201(r) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act1, were the most frequently reported commodities in Year 3.
This information underscores the vital urgency for the finalization of the proposed rule Produce Safety: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. With a robust and strongly enforced regulation, a fully-funded FDA will be well-equipped to prevent future outbreaks relating to these products, rather than reacting to outbreaks, illnesses and deaths.
1 - Any food in its raw or natural state, including all fruits that are washed, colored, or otherwise treated in their unpeeled natural form prior to marketin