FDA to look at mandatory traceability system

September 18, 2008

On the heels of the end of worst foodborne outbreak in history, lawmakers are looking to a mandatory traceability system in the U.S. According to a Reuters report, lawmakers said a mandatory program was not only overdue, but needed to restore consumer confidence.

Many food processors and produce firms use traceability systems on a voluntary basis, but do so with no official performance standards.

"It is the system that is broken," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on agriculture. "You still do not have mandatory traceability, mandatory performance standards. You are looking for a needle in a haystack."

DeLauro plans to introduce a new proposal that would create a separate safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to handle all food safety issues currently administered by FDA.

"We are going down a road of examining what is going to work," said David Acheson, the Food and Drug Administration's associate commissioner for food protection. He told the subcommittee a mandatory program "would have an impact."

Acheson said FDA does not believe it has explicit authority to mandate a tracking system, the Reuters article reports.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 76 million people in the U.S. get sick every year with foodborne illness and 5,000 die.

Reuters article