The Food and Drug Administration’s Reportable Food Registry helped head off the potential spread of foodborne illness several times from September 2010 to September 2011, including one case involving grape tomatoes that tested positive for salmonella.

The second annual report on the Reportable Food Registry showed that 225 primary entries were made that helped the FDA stay ahead of potential health hazards in food and animal food and feed products, the agency reported April 19.

Fresh produce results

Of the 225 primary entries in the registry’s second year, fresh produce commodities accounted for 25 reports of the total (23 detections of salmonella and two detections of listeria monocytogenes) and fresh-cut produce accounted for nine reports (seven detections of listeria monocytogenes and two detections of salmonella).

That compares with first-year results (September 2009 to September 2010), when whole fresh produce commodities accounted for 14 reports and fresh-cut produce accounted for 13 of the 229 primary reports.

The FDA said part of the reason for the increase in produce primary reports was because of alerts from the USDA’s Microbiological Data Program.

The program recently detected salmonella in Dole bagged salad.

“While this information is intended to determine the effectiveness of procedures to reduce or eliminate harmful microorganisms, the results of MDP tests are shared with RFR responsible parties who may be required to submit the information to the (registry),” according to the FDA report. Manufacturers, processors, packers and distributors of FDA-regulated food are required to report to FDA via the online Safety Reporting Portal of any products that could result in serious adverse health consequences to humans or animals.

The FDA’s summary of the second year of the registry shows that 225 primary reports were filed under 22 commodity categories, with 483 subsequent reports from suppliers or recipients of a food product for which a primary report had been logged. According to the report, 174 amended reports were filed to correct or add to previously submitted data.

Salmonella accounted for 38% of hazards flagged, Undeclared allergens accounted for 33% and Listeria monocytogenes accounted for 18%, the agency reported.

By way of comparison, the 229 primary reports in the first year of the registry involved 25 commodity categories with Salmonella accounting for 38% of hazards, undeclared allergens for 30% and Listeria monocytogenes for 14%.

The FDA said the registry has helped the agency increase the speed of investigations and carry out appropriate follow-up action. The registry also improves the agency’s understanding how products move through supply chains, and help both industry and government officials identify key commodity risk points and potential preventive controls, according to the news release.