Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law on January 4, the FDA was required to create a more consumer-friendly version of the food recall search site within 90 days.
The new version presents recall information by date in table format going back to 2009, and includes product brand name, product description, reason for the recall and the recalling firm, as well as whether the recall is ongoing or completed.
The FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods Mike Taylor said in a statement: "The new search page not only provides consumers with an easy-to-read table of information on products they are searching for, it also represents the delivery of one of the first major actions called for under the Food Safety Modernization Act. That delivery is on time and right on target, and we appreciate the involvement of our stakeholders."
The table also includes links to news releases for each recall, providing more detailed information for consumers.
The agency said it consulted with a number of consumer and industry organizations on the most suitable format for presenting recall information, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Food Marketing Institute, and Consumers Union, among others.
"We welcome the suggestions of those with first-hand experience in communicating information to consumers about food recalls," Taylor said. "We intend to continue to reach out to stakeholders as we make additional improvements in sharing recall information."
Other provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act include granting the FDA authority to order recalls, when previously it could only request that a company withdraw a product from the market (with the exception of infant formula); giving the agency greater access to food manufacturers’ safety procedure documents; and requiring companies to keep more detailed food safety records.
Taylor added that whether the FDA has ordered a mandatory recall, or has provided a company with the opportunity to initiate a voluntary recall, the agency’s new food recall website should be a reference point for consumers whenever they have questions about a food recall.
The new search engine can be found here.
An illustration comparing the FDA’s old and new food recall search engine sites is available online here.