How Safe is Our Food? Recent trends and what they mean

U.S. PIRG Education Fund issued a report indicating that the number of food recalls has been increasing from 2013 to 2018. In meat and poultry, class1 recalls had an 83% increase. However, recalls from produce had only 2% increase since 2013. All food recalls increased by 10%. Technology such as Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) helped link together infections. This may explain some of these findings, but not all. The report talks about improvement needed in the recall system. In some cases some stores failed to remove recalled foods or took a long time to do so, raising concerns about the efficiency of the current system. The splits primary responsibility for different foods between the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the FDA caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective coordination, and inefficient use of resources. The report recommends setting specifications for irrigation water. Establish clear enforcement consequences for recurring violations of food safety. Declare antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as an adulterant in meat and poultry. Improve traceability throughout the food supply chain through network-based tracking technologies. Require disclosure of retailers selling products for all Class I and Class II recalls, establish a timeline for release of that information, and include packaged goods. Grant USDA mandatory recall authority for contaminated food. Penalize companies who continue to sell products after a recall. Develop programs for retailers to directly notify customers about food recalls. @

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