FDA\'s Pilot Program to Better Educate Consumers about Recalled Food Products

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2007 - 12:38pm
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[url="http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/pilot.html"]http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/pilot.html[/url]

FDA's Pilot Program to Better Educate Consumers about Recalled Food Products
What is the purpose of this pilot project?
What are typical food risks that FDA alerts the public to?
Which recalled products are part of the pilot program?
Why is FDA piloting the use of photos with recalled human food products only?
How long will this pilot project last?
What is the purpose of the pictures and what do they show?
Why do some recalls include photos and others do not?
Where can I comment on this pilot project?

What is the purpose of this pilot project?
FDA is conducting a six-month pilot program to educate and assist consumers in identifying recalled food products that may pose a significant health risk. FDA wants to help consumers identify recalled food products that pose a significant health risk by posting a photo of the principal label panel. FDA believes that by posting a photo of the label the consumer will be able to more easily identify and avoid these potentially hazardous food products. This pilot is one among other measures taken by FDA to proactively educate the public and improve food safety.

What are typical food risks that FDA alerts the public to?
Typical significant food risks include, among others, foods contaminated with dangerous microorganisms such as but not limited to Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes and allergens in foods such as nuts, dairy, soy, and fish ingredients.

Which recalled products are part of the pilot program?
Recalled food products that pose a significant health risk are covered by this pilot. This generally will involve potential class I and may also involve some potential class II food recalls. A class I recall is one in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death. Most class II and all class III food product recalls will not be covered by this pilot.

Over 100 class I recall events involving food products took place in fiscal year 2006. During the past five fiscal years, there have been an average of 188 class I food recall events each year.

Why is FDA piloting the use of photos with recalled human food products only?
FDA agrees with consumers and consumer groups that posting a photo will help consumers identify recalled food products so that they can avoid using them. During the course of and after the pilot concludes, FDA will evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot to ensure that it has been of substantial benefit to consumers. Consumer as well as industry feedback will weigh heavily into FDA's decision process. You can comment on this pilot by e-mailing FDA at [email]pilotphotofoods@fda.hhs.gov[/email]. FDA will explore and consider expanding this program to other FDA regulated products if this pilot is shown to be beneficial to consumers.

How long will this pilot project last?
The pilot is to last six months, beginning in mid-February 2007. The pilot may continue for a short time after the end of the six month period while the pilot is being evaluated.

What is the purpose of the pictures and what do they show?
The purpose is to increase food safety by making it easier for consumers to identify a recalled product that poses a significant health risk. The pictures will show a sample of the principal display panel, which consumers generally see when the product is on a retailer's shelf. It is important for consumers to read the text of the press release that will be posted along with the photo for specific identifying information such as lot numbers, manufacturers' name, etc. Generally, if multiple products or multiple varieties of a food product are recalled, such as various flavors of an ice cream product, only one photo of one of the products recalled would be shown. However, there may be exceptions if it is found that posting of multiple photos may more clearly identify the affected recalled products.

Why do some recalls include photos and others do not?
During the pilot period, posting of photos will only be used for potential Class I and, in some instances, potential Class II food recalled products where press releases have issued. All other FDA regulated products that are recalled are not included in this pilot. Some recalled food products covered by this pilot may not have photos posted if FDA determines that the posting of such photos would not provide a benefit to the consumer or would likely cause consumer confusion or undue alarm.

Where can I comment on this pilot project?
[email]pilotphotofoods@fda.hhs.gov[/email]

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