The Food Safety Modernization Act gave the FDA the power to mandate recalls. In the past the FDA would go to the company whose product was making people sick and try to cajole, threaten or shame them into doing the right thing.
Now with the power which for years they begged, the FDA fails to do the right thing. In early May, a berry mix from Townsend Farms was identified as the source of a Hepatitis A outbreak. At the time it seemed like all of the parties involved were moving in slow motion. Neither Townsend Farms nor the two retailers involved, Costco and Harris Teeter were doing anything. This was the perfect time for the FDA to do their job, to protect American consumers from food-borne illness, but they do nothing.
On June 4th, Townsend Farms finally issues a voluntary recall. As of today, ninety-nine people are or were sick with Hepatitis A. This number might be significantly lower if the FDA had done their job and used their power to mandate recalls given them by FSMA.
At the beginning of the last century, there was the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Food Safety Modernization Act was supposed to be this century’s building on the legacy. Instead we see the FDA floundering and FSMA bogged down in fights over funding.