- Global Pharma News & Resources
09-Jul-2019 - 09-Jul-2019

Pharmaceutical Contamination of Food: Ensuring Food Safety and Complying with the Law


  • What foods have drugs in them?
  • How do the drugs get there?
  • What impact can these foods have on humans?
  • What impact can a recall of pharmaceutically contaminated foods have on your business ?

Processors, packers, distributors and other food supply chain members need to know about food contamination, which foods are becoming illegal due to newly enacted laws and potential impact to segments of the consumer population.

Antibiotics, antimicrobial resistance, antidepressants, allergies, and inappropriately labeled GMO (biotechnology) in foods cause interactions between the drug in the food and drugs consumed by humans. Many of these foods are making recall headlines costing the food supply chain millions of dollars in lost revenue.


A basic understanding of pharmaceutically contaminated foods and the consequences of food contamination is critical to any food safety program.

With the Supply Chain Rules issued under FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) preventive controls, food supply chain members now share liability as a result of their inability to identify and help control foods deemed to be harmful as a result of pharmaceutical contamination. Learn where to look to see if your suppliers are in violation of Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) regulations.

States are establishing laws against the use of drugs in animal feeds regardless of federal resistance to such laws. Biotechnology companies are creating animal feeds and crop proteins that are pharmaceuticals, vaccines, or industrial enzymes for use in biochemical laboratories. The use of many of these drugs are illegal in some states and other countries.


This initial review will help food safety, quality, processor, buyer, compliance and other food supply chain members to begin to investigate the impact of pharmaceutical contamination in the foods they purchase, process, import and sell. We will also cover traceability issues critical to the appropriate location and identification of pharmaceutically impacted foods in the event of recalls.


  • Know which foods contain drugs
  • Understand how pharmaceuticals get into foods
  • Get basic knowledge of interactions between food drugs and consumed drugs and drug absorption
  • Develop a competent food traceability and recall program
  • Review your suppliers for food residue violations
  • Understand the problem of antimicrobial resistance resulting from antibiotics in animal feeds
  • Review the controversies involved with GMO and antibiotic foods
  • Look for states with laws in conflict with the federal government
  • Review some outbreaks resulting from pharmaceutical contamination that impacted consumers


  • Food supply chain upper management personnel
  • Financial personnel
  • Buyers
  • Inventory personnel
  • All registered food facilities food safety and quality personnel
  • GMO
  • Managers in retail and restaurant operations
  • Compliance officers
  • Import personnel
  • Food logistics professionals
  • Sales and marketing personnel
  • Labeling specialists


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