Friday, July 20, 2012

Food Recall Basics

The Partnership for Food Safety Education launched the Recall Basics for Consumers campaign to educate consumers about the importance to be aware of food recalls. Most Americans say they pay attention to food recalls, but less than 60% actually take action by actually checking their homes for recalled food items, according to a study done by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University. The focus of the campaign is to give consumers some basic steps to take action.

The Recall Basics campaign provides consumer information about identifying specifics on food products that consumers can match with recall notices. Getting consumers to actually look for the recalled food products in their homes is a challenge.

Recall notices can be found in the news, at the store and on-line. To identify if a recalled product is in your home, match the identifying marks on the label with the recall notice details such as product name, brand, container codes and container.

Many times the food recall may happen several days or weeks after purchase. Check your freezer, refrigerator and pantry for possible items. Keep in mind that if one form of the product is being recalled, that does not automatically mean that all forms are being recalled. Sometimes the recall will be expanded to include additional products as more information becomes available.

If you determine you have a recalled product in your home, do not eat the product or open the package. Do not give the product to the food bank or feed it to your pets, they can get sick from the food as well. Instead, return it to the store or dispose of it following the recall notice guidelines. If you handle the product, wash your hands carefully with warm water and soap.

Almost all food recalls are voluntary, initiated by the product manufacturer. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspects and regulates meat and poultry products and pasteurized eggs that are produced in federally inspected plants. The Food and Drug Administration regulates all food products not regulated by the FSIS.

After learning about a major food recall, check to see if you have the specific product in your pantry, refrigerate or freezer. Different products require you to look for different things. Match the details of the recall notice to the identifying information on the food product. If the product details do not match the recall notice details there is no need to be concerned or take action.

If you think you or family members have been adversely affected by a food product, you can contact your local health department or the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

Consumers can learn more about recalls by going to  and .

What to look for:
Fresh, frozen, canned foods, Meat & Poultry Products  - Product name, brand, weight/size, establishment number (look for USDA inspection seal), lot code, date code

Fresh Produce, Fruits & Vegetables -
Is recall of whole fresh produce or of produce in the packaged form? For bulk produce without a label, check with the store where you bought the product. For packaged produce check for brand, best if used by date (BIUB) and production code.

Frozen Products - Product name, brand, weight/size, code, best if used by date

Canned Products - Product name, brand, size (ounces), UPC Code

Other Processed Food Products - Product name, brand, weight/size, code, best if used by date

In-store Prepared or Deli Products (pre-made sandwiches, salads, etc.) - Product type (salad, sandwich, etc.) store brand, look for label information as listed in recall notice, consult your food retailer


Prepared by Nancy Wiker

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