Food recalls are no fun for anyone. They usually follow investigation of complaints, illness or worse when members of the public have been harmed by the adverse effects of a contaminated, adulterated, or misbranded product. Food recalls are important corrective actions undertaken by a company or several companies to remove a product or series of products from the marketplace so that the public is protected from these adverse events. These food recalls do not happen overnight and are not taken lightly. Recalls are an important tool to make sure the food supply is safe for everyone.
What is a Food Recall?
A food recall includes any corrective action by a company or industry aimed at protecting the public from harm. A recall is voluntary and initiated by the company itself. Sometimes, the company recalls food or related products as requested by federal or state agencies who have received and investigated reports of contaminated, adulterated or misbranded food and related products. Other times, companies have self-reported problems in the production or distribution of meat, poultry, fish and other food products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps the public apprised of how widespread suspected foodborne disease is and ways consumers can protect themselves from further illness or harm.
Prevention of Recalls is Key
Due to the enormous cost to the company and industry, including loss of reputation and market share, food manufacturing firms try their best to prevent a recall by engaging in best practices and developing plans to control production or distribution of problem products. Food safety policies, ethical codes of conducts, effective regulation, quality control and inspection, transparency and disclosure, among others, go a long way in making sure that the food sold in our grocery stores and restaurants is safe and healthy for everyone. Recalls are very difficult to undertake and companies know it’s difficult to regain their reputation in the marketplace once a recall has been accomplished.
Important Role of Federal Regulators in Policing the Marketplace
Government agencies can force a company to recall hazardous products or mislabeled food from distribution and marketing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) share regulatory responsibility for food product recalls. If a company refuses to recall a product, the FDA and USDA FSIS have legal authority to hold a product or stop operations altogether if the product poses a danger to public health. FDA is responsible for domestic and imported foods whereas USDA FSIS oversees meat and poultry. Oversight of eggs is shared by the FDA and the USDA.
Calls for a food recall are not undertaken on a whim. When there is reason to believe that an adulterated or misbranded product has entered the marketplace, the FSIS Recall Management Division convenes a meeting of the Recall Committee. Comprised of FSIS scientists, technical experts, field inspection managers, enforcement personnel and communications specialists, the Recall Committee carefully evaluates all available information and then makes recommendations to the company about the need for a food recall.
Important Role of the Consumer in Food Safety
While the American food supply is among the safest in the world, CDC estimates that there are more than 76 million cases of foodborne illness each year, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. Help prevent food poisoning as you prepare food by taking time to clean, separate, cook, and chill the food, as appropriate. Report suspected food illness, including mislabeling, to your primary care physician, government regulators, consumer groups, grocers, and product manufacturers.
Consumer Protection and Nationwide Egg Recall
In August 2010, one of the nation’s largest egg producers recalled 380 million eggs after they were connected to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning. CDC reported that these eggs were linked to several illnesses in several states, including Colorado, California and Minnesota. The nationwide recall involves eggs packaged from May 16 through Aug. 13, 2010. Several agencies of the US Government, industry and consumer groups continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on the recall.
US Consumer Information on Recalls
For additional information on recalls of food and other products, check out the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or via email at: email@example.com . Find out more about ways to keep the food supply safe and healthy for everyone.
Information on US Government Recalls
Product Alert Mobile Phone App
Recalls, Market Withdrawals & Safety Alerts
US Department of Agriculture
National Organic Program
Agricultural Marketing Service, US Department of Agriculture