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Fresh produce deemed the second leading cause of Salmonella reports in FDA registry

by Joan Murphy | January 27, 2011
WASHINGTON — Produce was the second-leading cause of Salmonella reports during the first year of the Reportable Food Registry, the Food & Drug Administration said Jan. 21.

The agency released the first-ever report of the electronic portal that industry and health officials use to report serious food-safety incidents to the FDA. Congress directed the agency to establish the reporting mechanism as an early-warning system for problems in the food and feed supply chain.

From Sept. 8, 2009 to Sept. 7, 2010, the FDA received 2,240 reports of contaminated human food and animal feed in the supply chain that potentially could cause serious health consequences or death.

The largest cause of potentially tainted products was due to Salmonella, and the leading food commodity tied to Salmonella was seasonings and spices. But the second-leading commodity fingered in the report was categorized as raw agricultural commodities or produce.

Fresh-cut produce was ranked sixth in the number of reports submitted due to Salmonella, the report said.

"The data in this report represent an important tool for targeting our inspection resources, bringing high-risk commodities into focus, and driving positive change in industry practices — all of which will better protect the public health," Mike Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, said in the report. “We anticipate improved reporting as we continue our vigorous outreach to food facilities through federal, state, local and foreign agencies to help us expand the positive effect of the RFR on the safety of the U.S. food supply.”