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Consumer groups press FDA for stronger tracking rules on contaminated food

Consumer groups press FDA for stronger tracking rules on contaminated food
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Consumer and food safety advocates are calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to set new requirements in the next six months to better track produce linked to foodborne illnesses after a multistate recall of romaine lettuce.

Consumers Union and eight other groups, including Food and Water Watch, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Thursday asking him to implement the directive in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that requires the agency to issue a proposed rule establishing recordkeeping requirements for high-risk foods.

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The letter follows an outbreak of E. coli linked to romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Ariz., growing region that killed one person and sickened more than 170 others.

CDC has not been able to identify a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand of romaine.

But the groups argued in their letter that current technology makes it possible for retailers to track and trace products with extraordinary speed and accuracy.

“Given these advances, it is no longer acceptable that the FDA has no means to swiftly determine where a bag of lettuce was grown or packaged,” they wrote.

“We therefore urge you to act swiftly to carry out the Congressional requirements in FSMA to identify a list of high-risk foods and issue a proposed rule to enhance recordkeeping for those foods.”

The groups specifically asked FDA to designate produce, including leafy greens, a high-risk food and propose regulations that will enhance product tracing for produce in the event of an outbreak.