I learned the news from a recorded phone message. An East Coast grocery store chain was alerting me to the fact that the organic apple juice I purchased 2 weeks earlier was recalled by its manufacturing company. I was relieved to receive this informational food alert phone call.
But this instance of a food product recall led me to wonder about the rest of my family’s food purchased from our military commissary. How will I know if this food is recalled? And what should I do if I find a recalled item in my pantry or refrigerator?
Your Guide to Staying Informed on Food Safety Alerts and Product Recalls
- First of all, you need to understand how a food safety alert or product recall happens. The majority of food recalls are voluntarily initiated by manufacturers and distributors. For example, Kraft Foods Group issued a voluntarily recall of 7,691 cases of select varieties of regular Kraft American Singles Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product late last month. Strict federal regulation ensures that food manufacturing companies work diligently to actively recall any food with potential health risks.
- Next the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will evaluate the potential severity of the recall. They will make sure that all reasonable efforts to remove or correct the problem are being made. This is when the recall notice is posted on websites for consumers and stores are contacted to remove the item from their shelves. Whenever a commissary has a recalled or withdrawn product in its inventory, the product is immediately removed from store shelves. Typically there is a sign posted on the empty shelves alerting customers about the food recall.
- Then it is the customer’s responsibility to check their pantries for recalled food products.
- If a customer has a recalled item, they should return that item to the commissary or grocery store for a refund.
One thing to keep in mind is that food recalls are not unusual. In a 12-month period from July 2102 to July 2013, there was more than 600 food recalls in the United States and Canada. The most typical recalls are due to contamination (such as E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes or Salmonella) and misbranding (undeclared allergens such as peanut, tree nut, milk, egg, soy, shellfish). Finally a food recall doesn’t mean that people have gotten sick from a particular item. Most times, there aren’t any reported cases of hospitalization, but the manufacturing company is exercising caution.
Are you worried about food alerts and product recalls?
Consider subscribing to email alert service through the FDA. These emails keep shoppers informed on timely FDA news and information.