Food And Drug Administration Surveillance Of The Role Of Foreign Objects In Foodborne Injuries
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Food And Drug Administration Surveillance Of The Role Of Foreign Objects In Foodborne Injuries

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    Public Health Rep
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    As part of its effort to assure a safe food supply, the Food and Drug Administration maintains a passive surveillance system for the reporting and follow-up of complaints related to food items. This surveillance system, called the Complaint Reporting System, records and investigates consumer complaints about the quality of a specific food item, its packaging, or unexpected effects following consumption of the food. This study, relying on data gathered from the 2,726 reports of discovery of a foreign object in a food item during fiscal year 1989, develops a profile of consumer complaints, focusing on those associated with resultant injury or illness. Fourteen percent of all reported cases of foreign object exposure cited resultant illness or injury. The most common foreign object reported in food is glass, and the most common injury is a laceration or abrasion of soft tissues of the perioral area, including the throat. There was a disproportionate representation of children younger than age 3 years with documented illness or injury. Only 3 percent of the complaints came from attending health professionals; 82 percent were self-reported. Practitioner awareness of the system is limited primarily because literature in this area is scant. The collection and investigation of reports of foreign objects in food are important because such reports provide early warnings of potential problems with manufacturers' food items. Although data suggest that severe injury from foreign object ingestion is rare, continued monitoring is warranted. Health professionals are encouraged to report such injuries through the existing system.
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