FDA Response to CDC Report

Douglas Adams said, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own set of laws.” This statement couldn’t be truer – just ask a few of the major companies that are currently facing recalls or other food safety issues. Today’s consumer is considerably more “in tune” to current news and news agencies have discovered that food safety-related stories draw large audiences. And why shouldn’t the consumer have a keener eye on food safety? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2007 there were 21,244 reported cases of foodborne illness, 18 of which were fatal.

The CDC also reported that norovirus remains the culprit in the largest amount of reported outbreaks and outbreak-related illnesses. Norovirus outbreaks are typically a result of food workers contaminating food at some point during the preparation process of ready-to-eat foods. It is believed most cases occur because of unwashed, or improperly washed, hands.

Now, two months after the CDC released their report, the Food and Drug Administration announced they are advocating having certified food safety managers employed at food retail establishments. Though many states already require a certified food safety manager on staff, the FDA stated they will encourage other regulatory agencies to make this a requirement as well. In addition, they are stepping up their campaign for state, local, and tribal regulatory agencies to adopt its Model Food Code and National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.

While this may initially cut into the profit margins of these establishments, it certainly can’t be worse than the loss of business, increased insurance premiums, or possible legal action resulting from a foodborne illness outbreak traced back to that establishment.

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