Salmonella and Undeclared Allergens Get Starring Roles in FDA’s First Reportable Food Registry Annual Report

January 24, 2011

By Ricardo Carvajal

When FDA issued a report on the Reportable Food Registry ("RFR") 7 months after the RFR’s implementation, the agency cautioned that it was “too early to draw inferences concerning patterns of food and feed adulteration.”  Not so in the agency’s first annual report on the RFR, which is claimed to contain data that “represent an important tool for targeting [FDA’s] inspection resources, bringing high risk commodities into focus, and driving positive change in industry practices – all of which will better protect the public health.”  The annual report confirms what was becoming apparent at the 7-month mark – foodborne pathogens (especially Salmonella) and undeclared allergens/intolerances are the principal culprits, together accounting for more than 85% of RFR reports. 

The report describes numerous agency initiatives associated with the RFR, including import alerts and bulletins, field assignments, and guidance and other publications.  The report also describes RFR-associated industry initiatives, such incorporation of RFR requirements into audit standards, industry guidance for spices and baked goods, and incorporation of RFR-related provisions into supply agreements.  Manufacturers and distributors of commodities that feature prominently in the RFR can expect to continue to receive FDA’s attention as the agency begins to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, which dictates risk-based allocation of FDA resources. 

Notably, FDA expresses concern over the relatively small number of RFR reports from foreign facilities, which handily outnumber domestic facilities.  FDA intends to build awareness of RFR requirements in the international arena in 2011.