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Food Recalls

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 - 7:00am

Amy Myers: Today, we’re talking about food recalls. Hello, I’m Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm & Family.  Today, we’re speaking with Abbey Schnedler, Mississippi State University Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion apprentice.

Amy: Abbey, lately it seems there have been more food recalls in the news than usual. Could you explain to our listeners why food is recalled and what consumers should do in the event they have purchased a food product that is recalled.

Abbey Schnedler: Food companies will recall their products when there is reason to believe that a food may cause consumers to become ill, if products are mislabeled or when the food may present a health hazard to consumers which includes allergens, bacteria, or extraneous matter. For example, most recalls are due to mislabeling or misbranding of food where a food may contain an allergen, such as eggs or nuts, but those ingredients do not appear on the label. Other food recall situations include: discovery of a bacteria or foreign objects in a product which may hurt consumers or make them sick. Even if recalls are getting more common, it doesn’t mean the food supply isn’t safe.  It can actually mean that companies are getting better at detecting outbreaks. Also, a majority of recalls are just precautionary, which means more companies are voluntarily recalling products as soon as a potential public health threat is feared such as a mislabeled product.

Amy: Who is responsible for issuing a food recall?

Abbey: A food manufacturer or distributor initiates the recall to take foods off the market. In some situations, food recalls are requested by government agencies, like the United State Department of Agriculture, which is the USDA, or the FDA, which is the Food and Drug Administration.  USDA inspects meat, poultry, catfish and egg products. FDA inspects everything else, like frozen dinners, casseroles, canned foods, fruits and vegetables and any processed products, like baked goods, dressings, cheeses and other packaged snacks.

Amy: How do these agencies alert people about food recalls?

Abbey: A food recall will be issued and reported though media outlets such as the news on TV and the newspaper. You can also check out recent food recalls by visiting the the website, *Foodsafety.gov.* Once on the site, simply click on Recalls & Alerts for more information about current recalls and what to do in the event of a recall.  It is very important to be knowledgeable about food recalls. It was found that only 84% of Americans say they pay close attention to food recalls. Additionally, Fewer than 60% of Americans have ever checked their homes for a recalled food item.

Amy: How can you determine if you have a food product that is recalled?

Food recalls are very specific and only products produced during a specific time period is recalled. It can be possible that you may have a different product by the same manufacturer, or you might have the exact product, but in a different size or with a different sell-by date, that is not part of the recall. Therefore, to identify the products you should look at the package description, package date, the lot number, and the package codes to determine if they match the recall announcement.

Amy: If you do hear about a food recall and you have the product, what should you do?

Abbey: If you have a food product that has been recalled it is very important to follow the directions provided in the recall notice. In the notice will provide information on what to do with the product. Generally, most products can be returned to the store where purchased.  The store will send it back to the manufacturer or destroy it.  Do NOT serve the recalled food product to people OR animals.  If you throw the product away, do not dispose of it in a place where animals or even children can get to it - especially in circumstances of bacteria contamination, or presence of foreign matter.

Amy: What should you do if you missed a food recall and have already consumed the recalled food product?

Abbey: If the products’ label did not indicate that it contained an allergen, your family is not at risk if no one is allergic to it.  If a product is being recalled because it may contain a foreign object and you’ve already eaten the product, and didn’t find the foreign object, you don’t need to worry. If a product was recalled because it may contain bacteria, and you’ve consumed the product within the last few days, you probably are not at risk, if you cooked it thoroughly - and have not experienced any symptoms of food poisoning, like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Amy: What if I consume a ready-to-eat product that I’m not supposed to cook first, like potato chips or cookies or crackers – and then, I find out it’s been recalled due to possible bacteria contamination?

Abbey: answer here

Amy: I recently heard about a pet food recalls. Do the same rules apply?

Abbey: Yes, the same rules apply to pet food recalls. If you hear about a pet food recall, you should check the package date, lot number, and package code to determine if it falls under the recall. You should immediately stop feeding it to your pet. If it was recalled for salmonella, or toxic, or dangerous ingredients or ingredient levels, and you’ve already been feeding the food to your pet, then visit your veterinarian immediately. You can learn about pet food recalls by visiting www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/recalls.

Amy: Any other tips?

Abbey: Yes – shopper rewards cards have some additional benefits. If you have purchased a recalled product, the store may flag your rewards card to notify you of a recalled product you may have previously purchased – usually it prints as a coupon announcement.

Amy: Thanks so much.  Today we’ve been speaking with Abbey Schnedler, Mississippi State University Food Science, Nutrition & Health Promotion apprentice.  I’m Amy Myer, and this has been Farm & Family. Have a great day!

Announcer: Farm & Family is a production of Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

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