Friday, June 4, 2010

New safety reporting portal a good thing, but ...

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) just joined forces to launch a new online portal for anyone--manufacturers, consumers, researchers, health professionals, public health officials, etc.--to report a potential safety issue with a food for humans, pets or feed animals.
This new portal now encompasses the
Reportable Food Registry, which manufacturers and regulators of human and petfood products have been required to use since September 2009 to report any food safety issue within 24 hours. (Read more about the requirements for petfood manufacturers here.)
According to an FDA/NIH
statement, the new portal will make the Reportable Food Registry (RFR) more user friendly. Specifically, FDA says:
New, user-friendly software offers conveniences to reporters to the RFR. Reports can be pre-populated with contact information and saved as drafts or partially completed reports. Users can now view any previous submissions they have made to the Safety Reporting Portal.
For consumers and people other than manufacturers, probably the most helpful page on the new site is a
directory that breaks down all the types of products and situations for which a safety problem can be filed.
If FDA's promises of a more user-friendly way for manufacturers to file required reports comes true, that's definitely positive. And, since I'm almost always in favor of transparency, to me the consumer access is a good thing, too.
My only concern is, does FDA have the manpower and other resources to process and properly investigate all the reports that will be filed? Will they simply go into an electronic black hole? Or, if a report comes in and the agency is too short-handed to launch a full investigation, will it put the responsibility and expense of disproving the complaint on the company named in the report?
What do you think?

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