On August 18, 2008 after years of hand wringing, the FSIS finally put public health before “proprietary” business interests when it made the following rule:
9 C.F.R. § 390.10 Availability of Lists of Retail Consignees during Meat or Poultry Product Recalls
The Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service will make publicly available the names and locations of retail consignees of recalled meat or poultry products that the Agency compiles in connection with a recall where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product could cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
The full rule can be reviewed at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FRPubs/2005-0028F.pdf. FDA, what is your plan?
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that the number of victims had increased in a 2012 Salmonella outbreak linked to Nakaochi Scrape, also known as Tuna Scrape, a ground tuna product produced by Moon Marine and imported from India. In light of the continuing illnesses, food safety advocate and attorney William Marler is calling on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release the names of all restaurants and retailers where the contaminated product was distributed.
“Moon Marine and the FDA have the information that could help consumers make good choices about where and what to eat and for restaurants and retailers to pull the tainted product from their shelves,” said Marler. “Withholding that information is clearly not in the best interest of public health and has only served to allow more people to become ill.”
The CDC reported a total of 390 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly (376 persons) or Salmonella Nchanga (14 persons) have been reported from 27 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (4), Arkansas (1), California (7), Colorado (1), Connecticut (11), District of Columbia (3), Florida (1), Georgia (18), Illinois (29), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (6), Massachusetts (36), Maryland (39), Missouri (4), Mississippi (2), Nebraska (2), New Jersey (35), New York (58), North Carolina (12), Pennsylvania (34), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (4), Tennessee (4), Texas (13), Virginia (22), Vermont (1), and Wisconsin (21).
Although the numbers of new cases have declined since the peak in April 2012, the CDC warned today that the Salmonella Bareilly and Nchanga outbreak may continue at a low level for the next several months since some food establishments may be unaware that they received recalled product and continue to serve this frozen raw yellowfin tuna product, which has a long shelf-life.
Unlike the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), which oversees other animal-based food products, except most seafood, FDA does not routinely maintain a Retailer Distribution List during an outbreak. Marler argues that had retailers been made public, they would have been forced to initiate a recall themselves, which would have increased public awareness and helped to prevent any contaminated tuna scrape from being served at restaurants or consumed at home.
WILLIAM MARLER is the Managing Partner of Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella. The firm’s Salmonella lawyers have been litigating foodborne illness cases since the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak, and have obtained over $600,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for victims of Salmonella, E. coli, and other outbreaks.