FDA Spotlight – Import Alerts
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency in charge of protecting consumers in the U.S. from potentially harmful food and drugs, has the authority to issue “import alerts” to keep potentially dangerous products from other countries from entering the U.S.
“Keeping unsafe foods, drugs, devices and other products from reaching consumers is the Food and Drug Administration’s mission,” FDA.
About Import Alerts
An import alert allows the FDA to detain products that either have or potentially could violate the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Once the import alert is issued, the FDA does not have to physically examine the products included to detain them. The alert can be issued for an import from a manufacturer, shipper, grower, geographical area, or country. Import alerts do not have to accompany a recall, but in some cases do. An import alert can prompt a recall, and a recall can prompt an import alert. The FDA may issue an import alert if:
- there are problems related to product production
- questions are raised in an inspection of the manufacturing site
- there is already a recall of products on store shelves
- there exists a history of problems with no signs that appropriate actions were taken to remedy the cause
Current Import Alerts
A recent import alert on August 25, 2011 detained all shipments of papayas from Mexico due to potential Salmonella poisoning. According to the FDA, there are currently 264 import alerts. They represent 3,100 types of products from more than 11,000 manufacturers in 150 countries and regions. Products include:
- fruits and vegetables
- medical devices
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