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Does the FDA Take Too Long Recalling Tainted Food?

by Countable | 12.29.17

What’s the story?

According to a report issued by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration "did not always have an efficient and effective food-recall process that ensured the safety of the Nation’s food supply."

Why does it matter?

As NPR explained, "the investigation shows food companies took an average of 57 days to recall items after the FDA was informed of the potential danger."

George Nedder, the lead author of the report (summarized here), wrote:

"Our review found that FDA does not have adequate policies and procedures to ensure that firms take prompt and effective action in initiating voluntary food recalls. This means that dangerous food products may have remained in our nation's food supply for weeks after FDA was aware of the contamination."

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb admitted the findings were disconcerting.

"I take these obligations very seriously. Making sure the FDA has effective recall practices in place, and that we take immediate action to address unsafe foods, are high priorities of mine. Our recall authorities – and how we deploy them – are a cornerstone of our vital, consumer protection mission."

Gottlieb said that if the FDA finds it doesn’t have enough authority to issue recalls, he’ll ask Congress for it.

What do you think?

Is the FDA "fulfilling its responsibility in safeguarding the nation's food supply"? Should Congress grant them more authority for recalls? Have you gotten sick from recalled food? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Ranta Images / iStockphoto)

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(21)
  • John
    12/29/2017
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    There should be much stricter rules concerning our food. When our food can sicken or kill us just because of how it is produced we need to rethink agribusiness vs people.

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  • RadicalModerate
    12/30/2017
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    FDA please do your job and recall high fructose corn syrup.

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  • Ticktock
    12/30/2017
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    The FDA is under staffed, under funded and has been for years. That one way to reduce government oversight. Not only are the recalls slow, they depend largely on processor self reporting and testing, but there are more recalls today than 15 or 20 years ago. Today there are faster and better testing but when the Fox is monitoring himself why would he rush?

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  • Nona
    12/29/2017
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    In general the FDA and food producers do a pretty good job of getting recalled food off the market quickly, although there’s room for improvement. More critical is to reduce the time lag for testing and reporting isolates from those who have become ill, in order to tie implicated products to outbreaks; to examine all avenues of commerce not just traditional food service and retail (I.M.Healthy soy nut butter was available online months after it had been recalled from grocery stores); and allow release of outlet names instead of this being protected as commercial supply chain privileged information.

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  • T
    01/02/2018
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    If we don’t vote the Republicans out of office there won’t be an FDA. They have already attacked the protection of our water,air,land,consumer purchases and everything that protects an individual. You better go check and see what they have done against the people for the corporations already. It is mind boggling to see the ones called our Representatives work everyday to take away our protections while boldly announcing it as we have to reduce our regulations because there are too many so the corporations can destroy anything they want with no accountability.

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  • Gerald
    12/29/2017
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    I imagine FDA employees do their best. I am sure there is not enough staff, corporate power in the administration slows the response, and with food being imported from around the world risk increases exponentially. Of course, while we found the dollars in the treasury to lift the estate tax exemption to ten million dollars, we reduced the FDA budget. I am sure Trump has a food taster to ensure there is no risk to him ( and Democrats should note the creation of food tasting jobs will return from over seas)

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  • Anthony
    12/31/2017
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    There’s something incredibly wrong with our system when it comes to food and drink. The FDA is supposed to be keeping us safe in the foods we are digesting, not slowly learning about it and giving an apology. I’m telling you, it’s really no good for the government to be making an issue over our health with the opioid problems and so on and so forth when they are giving no hope for healthy food for our bodies.

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  • Melinda
    12/30/2017
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    Yes, the FDA can take a very long time to report to the public.

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  • Dara
    01/01/2018
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    I think the FDA like most institutions is overworked, understaffed, and underpaid. Hire some help chap Americans!

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  • Benjamin
    01/01/2018
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    The FDA doesent fo a good job at all. Europe is far ahead of us in terms of food quality and safety in our food. Why is the FDA so behind

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  • HockeyGuy
    01/02/2018
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    Yes, the FDA takes too long for decisive action to help keep us safe! They are underfunded and understaffed, a by-product of “smaller government”, which the Republicans love!

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  • Mart
    01/02/2018
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    Here’s a great program to states cutting. FDA, FAA, FCC, f them all!

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  • Diane
    01/02/2018
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    Here is another example of how underfunding protective legislation hurts citizens. Science not Corporations should drive regulation. I believe we need to fund appropriately and begin to put health and safety before the crazy get rid of 2 before passing one drive of this administration.

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  • Austin
    01/05/2018
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    Ehhhh maybe in certain things ya but there’s always room for improvement

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  • Sheryl
    12/29/2017
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    Long ago I read a study that indicated human waste was found on lettuce being sold in the super market. They concluded field workers may be responsible. Ever since I have washed and scrubbed all produce before eating. What good does a recall do 2 months after the food has been consumed?

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  • Leon
    12/29/2017
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    Again, mostly a ‘for show’ institution. The regulations are costly and ineffective.

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  • GatewayJohn
    12/30/2017
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    Another case where we need to increase rather than delete or dilute regulations

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  • Donna
    12/30/2017
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    This is merely an excuse to start dismantling this agency next. A pool should be started on how long the removal of "ineffective" regulations and mass exodus of scientists will take. I see a pattern here....

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  • Azrael
    12/30/2017
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    Leave our scientist and career employees in place Doing a great job They’re leaving in droves because they can’t do their jobs properly and won’t be responsible for the mass loss of life and health that IS on its way due to regulatory Roll backs

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  • Gail
    12/31/2017
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    If the FDA is anything like Scott Pruitt’s EPA, the idea is to poison the American people for profit, killing the regulations that protect us. Adios America. Good bye planet earth.

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