Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Listeria in Onions, Salmonella in Mangoes Topped Last Year’s Reportable Foods List

Onions recalled for potential Listeria contamination and mangoes recalled for the possible presence of Salmonella were the foods most commonly reported by their manufacturers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between September of 2011 and September of 2012, according to a new report from the agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released this latest data from its Reportable Foods Registry (RFR) last month. The Registry is an online forum where companies notify FDA when a food they distribute that may be contaminated or contain undeclared allergens.

The majority of products reported to the RFR are subsequent entries, meaning that they contain a food produced by a different company that has been flagged for a health risk. This was the case for both the sliced onions and imported mangoes that topped the list of RFR submissions last year.

In July of 2012, Gill’s Onions of California issued a massive recall of sliced onions after samples tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. According to the RFR report, this finding eventually resulted in 136 submissions to the RFR.

Then in August of last year, mangoes imported from Mexican grower Agricola Daniella were recalled after being linked to a multistate Salmonella outbreak that sickened 127 people. The discovery of contamination in the Mexican mangoes led to 107 subsequent entries in the RFR, according to FDA.

This year marks the third year FDA has released data from the Registry, which was established by the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007. According to the Act, FDA must be alerted of a reportable food via an electronic portal within 24 hours of the company discovering the problem.

In total, 1,095 entries were submitted to the Registry between September 8, 2011 and September 7, 2012, or Year 3 of data collection, reported the agency. That number reflected a significant increase from the 882 foods reported during Year 2. The agency says Year 1 was much higher, with 2,240 products reported, because the discovery of Salmonella in a flavor enhancer led to 1,071 subsequent reports to the RFR. 

Of the Year 3 reports, 224 were primary reports. All but 3 of those primary reports were mandatory industry reports related to a recall in partnership with FDA, while the remaining 3 were voluntary. The number of primary reports has been similar for all three years, said the agency.

Data from the RFR is useful not only in identifying products that pose an immediate public health threat, but in identifying types of foods that pose a potential future threat, according to FDA.

“We can use the data to identify hazards associated with products for which we have not previously made such an association and thus identify foods for which preventive controls may be needed,” said Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Mike Taylor in the report’s introduction. ”The data are also being used to help target inspections, plan work, identify and prioritize risks and develop guidance for industry.”

© Food Safety News