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The FDA and Contaminated Food Recalls

Contaminated food can cause huge levels of harm. It can leave many people ill. In some instances, illnesses caused by contaminated food products can end up being fatal.

When a line of food products becomes contaminated and ends up harming consumers, there may be various legal options and potential remedies available for the victims of the contaminated food. In some instances, a class action product liability lawsuit may be a possibility.

The ideal situation would be that no contaminated food product would ever make it out onto the market. Unfortunately, such products do sometimes find their way onto the shelves.

When a contaminated food does make it onto the market, it is very important for it to be quickly removed so it doesn't have the chance to harm consumers. This is why appropriate food recalls are so critical.

One type of food recall is a recall initiated voluntarily by the contaminated food's producer. One would hope that all food companies would take prompt and appropriate recall measures when they discover harmful contamination related to their products.

When a food company fails to voluntarily recall a contaminated food product after being given an adequate opportunity to do so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration generally can order a mandatory recall. A recent government report raises questions as to whether the FDA is doing enough to encourage companies to make prompt voluntary recalls of contaminated foods.

The report was by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. The report reviewed various food-product-related recalls that happened over the 2012-2015 period.

The review found that, in some instances, quite a bit of time elapsed between the FDA becoming aware of a potential hazard related to a food product and the product being voluntarily recalled by its producer. The report also alleged that effective/efficient deadline-setting processes for voluntary food-contamination-related recalls were lacking at the agency.

One wonders if the report will spur any changes at the FDA when it comes to its processes related to food recalls, and, if it does, what impacts such changes will have on food safety and food recalls in the United States.

Source: USA Today, "Watchdog agency: FDA food recall process too slow," Liz Szabo, June 9, 2016

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