Food and Drug Administration officials are looking for greater participation by foreign suppliers of food in the agency’s reportable food registry.

The FDA recently released statistics on the registry’s first year, and less than a fourth of the primary reports — 53 of 229 — were from international suppliers. The electronic registry, available at, was created by the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 so food suppliers could provide FDA and the supply chain early notice of any potential serious food safety concerns.

Given the number of domestic and international registered facilities, FDA officials believe there should have been more incident reports from international food suppliers, said Kathy Gombas, acting deputy director in the office of food defense, communication and emergency response for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

In early February, FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci said 167,334 domestic facilities were registered, compared to 254,639 foreign food facilities.

“Where we saw opportunity is in the international arena,” Gombas said.

Given that fact, Gombas said Feb. 1 that the FDA is focusing on educating international companies about the registry, including providing the web-based “Reportable Food Registry at a glance” in several languages. In addition, FDA staff meets with delegations from foreign governments and industry representatives to talk about the program.

Cianci said the agency believes all food marketers will be motivated to comply with the law.

“The manufacturer is responsible for marketing a product which is safe and properly labeled and they should be taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure the product they bring to market is safe,” he said.

“It would be FDA’s hope they would move proactively on their own to remove that produce from the market should there be a food safety issue.”

Eventually, Gombas said results from the reportable food registry will also be used to target risk-based inspections for domestic and international facilities.

Cianci said agency officials are in the early stages of analyzing the new food safety law and are looking for the most efficient ways to comply with it. The FDA remains on track with plans to publish the produce safety proposed rule later this year, he said.