Two unborn babies died when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for 81 days knowingly allowed listeria-contaminated cheese to stay on store shelves, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
FDA officials are risking American lives by allowing consumers to eat food they know should be recalled for “weeks” or longer because they lack policies to give or enforce a timeline for companies to issue recalls, the report said.
Those policy failures allowed listeria-contaminated cheese to stay on shelves for 81 days in 2014, leading to the two unborn babies’ deaths and nine other illnesses. A third infant also died from the contamination, but before the FDA became aware of the problem. Another 14 people became ill from salmonella-contaminated nut butter when the FDA allowed it to stay in circulation for 165 days, according to the report.
“Specifically, FDA did not have policies and procedures to ensure that firms or responsible parties initiated voluntary food recalls promptly,” the IG said. “As a result, consumers remained at risk of illness or death for several weeks after the FDA was aware of a potentially hazardous food in the supply chain.”
The FDA is required to allow firms to recall products voluntarily before issuing a mandatory recall, but the agency lacks policies and procedures to give companies a timeline for making recalls promptly, the IG said. (RELATED: Suit Alleges Former FDA Chief Suppressed Danger Of ‘Deadly’ Drug For Profit)
Thirty voluntary recalls were analyzed, and the FDA didn’t give a timeline to firms to issue a recall in any of them. The IG suggested the FDA update its policies to establish time frames for voluntary food recalls.
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