The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published its second annual Reportable Food Registry (RFR) report summarizing information submitted by manufacturers, processors, packers and holders through the online Food Safety Portal from September 8, 2010, to September 7, 2011. Covering all human and animal food/feed regulated by FDA “except infant formula and dietary supplements,” RFR tracks “patterns of food and feed adulteration” to help FDA administer inspection resources more effectively.  

According to the report, FDA received 1,153 total entries in RFR’s second year compared with 2,600 in its first year, a difference which the agency ascribes to three major events in 2009-2010 that generated 1,284 subsequent records related to sulfites in prepared side dishes, Listeria monocytogenes in cheese spreads and Salmonella in hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Without these entries, FDA stated, the tallies for the first and second years would have differed by only 74 records. In particular, the second annual report did not significantly deviate from its predecessor in terms of the distribution of primary RFR entries by food safety hazard, indicating that Salmonella accounted for 38.2 percent of reported food hazards; undeclared allergens for 33.3 percent; and Listeria monocytogenes for 17.8 percent.

“With only two years of data, it would be premature to make meaningful statements about trends or patterns,” warned FDA, which nevertheless noted an overall increase in amended reports and produce reports but a decrease in animal feed/pet food reports. Based on these findings, the agency has pledged to issue proposed rules on microbiological controls for produce “in the near future,” to work with industry on identifying problems and developing solutions, and to revamp the registry itself to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act. In the meantime, however, FDA has credited the RFR effort with decreasing its response time to food safety issues, improving its understanding of distribution and supply chains, and identifying key commodity risk points to consider when establishing preventive controls. See FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Constituent Update, April 19, 2012.