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Food Recalls—What You Should Know and Do

Food Recalls--What You Should Know and DoFood recalls sound intimidating and sometimes alarming. However, they happen often and some cases are more severe than others. It is important to know what food recalls are, why food gets recalled, and how to react if food in your establishment is recalled.

What is a food recall?
A food recall is a voluntary response from a supplier or manufacturer that removes products that are mislabeled or have a potential or obvious hazard. This helps to keep the public safe and prevent further problems from occurring. Mislabeled packages and hazards are often found during the company’s personal inspections or product testing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can also find these hazards when doing an inspection and can recommend the manufacturer issue a food recall.

Why does food get recalled?
Food can be recalled for many different reasons. One of the most common causes for a food recall is that the food packaging was incorrect. This can include products in the wrong packaging, misleading claims, undeclared allergens, and incorrect ingredient labels.

Food can also be recalled if there are any biological, physical, or chemical hazards found in the food. For example, canned goods may be recalled if they have high levels of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which causes Botulism. Another example could be metal shavings from machines getting into a product, causing a physical hazard. Recalling food products with these hazards could be critical for consumer safety.

What do I do if products in my facility are part of a food recall?
The best way to handle a food recall is by being informed about the situation. The FDA will release information regarding the product, what the potential or obvious problem is, and guidelines or instructions on what you should do next, as well as many other pertinent details. For example, if the food product has an undeclared allergen, the FDA may say the food is safe to consume if you do not have that type of allergy. If the problem involves a dangerous microorganism, such as Salmonella, the FDA may direct you to discard the product or bring the receipt and product back to the place you purchased it from for a refund.

If you would like to learn more about foods that have recently been recalled, visit the FDA’s website on recent recalls. You can also sign up to receive notifications from the FDA regarding recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts. Paying attention to food recalls is just one way to keep consumers safe. For further training on ways to keep food safe, visit

Janilyn Hutchings

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