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Food Safety News

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Publisher’s Platform: When is a Recall not a Recall?

Perhaps when people keep getting sick by the product?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that a total of 390 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly (376 persons) or Salmonella Nchanga (14 persons) have been reported from 27 states and the District of Columbia. Of those sickened, 47 people have been hospitalized – fortunately, no deaths have been reported.

Investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, indicate that a frozen raw yellow fin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, imported from India by Moon Marine is the likely source of this outbreak.

Moon Marine recalled nearly 60,000 pounds of its Scrape on April 18, 2012.  The CDC made its first announcement that a Salmonella outbreak was occurring on April 4, 2012.  Salmonella illness onset dates range from January 1, 2012 to June 3, 2012.

Since the Moon Marine recall (see red line above) and CDC announcement, over 100 of the 390 people have consumed the “recalled” Scrape and become ill. In its announcement this week, the CDC also warned that, although the numbers of new cases have declined substantially since the peak in April 2012:

the outbreak may continue at a low level for the next several months since some food establishments may be unaware that they received recalled product and continue to serve this frozen raw yellow fin tuna product, which has a long shelf life.

Over 100 sickened AFTER the outbreak and recall was announced?  Do Scrape eaters have a death wish – hmm, perhaps do not answer that.

But, you have to ask yourself why a food establishment would be unaware that it received the recalled product and continue to sell it or serve it to unsuspecting customers. It also does not speak well of the recall itself if food establishments — likely grocery stores and restaurants — who keep serving tainted Scrape months after a confirmed Salmonella outbreak linked to a recalled product.

So much for FDA’s “mandatory recall authority.”  Why is the FDA not mandating that Moon Marine contact each food establishment and pick up the Scrape?

Perhaps it is time for a bit more transparency from India to your sushi roll? Perhaps if the FDA named the food establishments that received the Scrape from Moon Marine they would know not to serve it and consumers would know where not to eat it?  FDA’s sister agency FSIS has been doing exactly that for nearly four years.

On August 18, 2008 after years of hand wringing, the FSIS finally put public health before “proprietary” business interests when it made the following rule:

9 C.F.R. § 390.10 Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees during Meat or Poultry Product Recalls

The Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service will make publicly available the names and locations of retail consignees of recalled meat or poultry products that the Agency compiles in connection with a recall where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product could cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

The full rule can be reviewed here.

So, FDA, what is your plan?

© Food Safety News
  • husna aijaz

    As a recently certified food defense coordinator, I would like to update our audience on the recall procedure that I am familiar with. The regulatory agencies like FDA and FSIS can mandate a recall in situations of crisis involving medical equipment, infant formula or human tissue products
    (correct me if I am wrong here).
    It is the responsibility of food companies to initiate a recall plan, and design press releases based on the classification of recall so they can effectively trace back 100 % of the finished food product, packaging or raw materials. During the entire course of recall, the recall coordinator/team has to be in touch with the FDA/FSIS district recall coordinators and provide status reports that include date and customers notified, number of customers notified and those that responded, the amount of recalled product returned and any other relevant details. Once the company has effectively received the recalled product, they can destroy the product or take additional corrective actions as needed after discussing with the suitable regulatory agency.

  • FDA – New authorities include:
    Mandatory recall: The FSMA provides FDA with authority to issue a mandatory recall when a company fails to voluntarily recall unsafe food after being asked to by FDA.
    So, did the FDA ask? Moon Marine said what?