After a number of high-profile food poisoning outbreaks, there are now renewed efforts to speed up recalls of unsafe or contaminated food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to US News, an early alert report from the Health and Human Service Department said its ongoing audit of the FDA’s recall procedures found that the agency lacks an efficient and effective system to recall contaminated food. Essentially, our food recall process is so slow that it exposes millions of Americans to food-borne illnesses that could sicken or even kill them.
A Process Too Slow
Under a 5-year-old law, the FDA must give companies the opportunity to voluntarily recall food as soon as the agency learns of a safety problem. However, there is no mandatory deadline by which companies are required to respond. The FDA would then require the recall. But, that has only happened twice since this law has come into effect.
The inspector general’s report stated that the FDA’s policies and procedures did not instruct its recall staff to set deadlines or processes to initiate the recall. There was also no enforcement mechanism to ensure that the recalls were issued promptly. For example, in all 30 recall cases that the report looked at, the FDA failed to give a timeline for taking the contaminated foods off the market. This put consumers at risk of illness or death for several weeks after the FDA was aware of a potentially hazardous food in the supply chain, the report states.
The Danger of Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is something that is very real for millions of Americans each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, one in six Americans, or 48 million people, get sick as a result of food poisoning. About 128,000 are hospitalized and nearly 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses each year as well. In addition to illnesses and deaths, there are also thousands that are left with long-term health problems such as liver or kidney damage as a result of food poisoning.
Food producers and restaurants that serve food have a duty and a legal obligation to provide consumers with food that is safe and clean. If you have suffered food poisoning, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault parties for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, cost of diagnosis, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will fight to protect their rights and help them secure the compensation they rightfully deserve.