Yesterday FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a formal statement on his agency’s push for what he called a “more robust use” of the FDA’s power to force food companies to recall contaminated or otherwise dangerous foodstuffs.
Foodborne infections sicken an estimated 48 million Americans each year. Of those, says the Centers for Disease Control, 128,000 will require hospitalization and 3000 or so will die. “It’s our responsibility. And it’s critical to our mission to ensure the safety of Americans,” said Gottlieb in his statement.
Most companies, said Gottlieb, are quick to comply with the FDA’s voluntary recall request when a problem is discovered–the average time is reportedly 4 days. Some companies, however, are not. “To me, this is unacceptable,” he added.
The agency has had the power to force recalls for several years. Why Gottlieb’s predecessors did not more aggressively exercise that power has never been fully explained to the public.