In September 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) announced a new policy that provides for the release of a list of retailers that have received a food subject to recall. In the past, the FDA did not release such information because the agency deemed it confidential commercial information. The lack of information on the part of the FDA has been a huge detriment to the public. Prior to the new guidance, the public would only find out information about the particular food that was being recalled, not where this recalled food was available for purchase. The public was told just to stop purchasing that recalled food, whether it be romaine lettuce or beef, even if there were retailers who were selling non-contaminated products. This procedure not only hurts the public but also has a huge financial effect on those retailers who are not selling contaminated or recalled products. The FDA has effectuated a new guidance because they have found that such information is necessary to enforce a recall and to ensure public safety.
Despite the United States having one of the safest food supplies in the world, more than 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses and diseases each year, and more than 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from similar issues that are largely preventable. On January 04, 2011 President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”) into law. This enactment was called the “most sweeping reform” of U.S. Food Safety laws in more than seventy years. But seven years later, the act is still only partially enforced as the FDA has faced resistance from the government as well as a lack of funding. The FMSA was and is intended to enable the FDA to protect the health of the public by strengthening the food system in the United States. While change and reform in the industry are necessary, what good are new reforms if they will not be enforced for years to come?