U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation (S.B. 3114) that would require food distributors, retailers and health agencies to notify consumers and local officials in the event of a Class I food recall. Under the Consumer Recall Notification Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could ask grocery stores and other retailers to provide “on-site notification” where recalled foods are sold. In addition, purveyors that track data through customer card systems would need to alert, by phone and mail, the purchasers of recalled items or risk civil penalties of $100 per customer. Suppliers would also need to notify “applicable retail establishments and restaurants” within 24 hours of a Class I recall to avoid a $1,000 penalty per day, per notification of each level of distribution.

“In America, in 2010, it is unconscionable that we don’t have an effective way to communicate food-borne illness outbreaks to consumers and health departments,” Gillibrand said in a March 16, 2010, press release. Her legislation includes a provision tasking FDA and other federal agencies with improving communication among states, local health departments and frontline health professionals.