What Do You Do If You Have a Recalled Product?
By Dr. Linda M. Katz, Interim Chief Medical Officer for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)
In my role as chief medical officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, I am responsible for providing oversight for medical issues relating to food safety that may arise, including product recalls. A food recall occurs when a company removes a food product from the market because of the possibility that the food may be contaminated or mislabeled.
You may have seen a number of food recalls in the news lately. The news alerts usually include information to help you identify whether you have the product in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. So, what should you do if you find a recalled food in your own home?
Step 1: Don’t panic!
Most food recalls are not associated with a food illness outbreak, and many recalls are issued because there is a potential for the food to be contaminated. Often, food manufacturers issue a recall as a precautionary measure.
Step 2: Don’t eat the food.
Even though the food product may be recalled as a precaution, do not eat it! It’s always better to be safe than sorry. And please don’t give the food to other people (do not donate it to a food bank). Don’t feed it to your pets, either, because pets can get food poisoning, too.
Step 3: Don’t open the food.
Resist the temptation to open the food and check it. You can’t see, smell, or taste the bacteria or viruses that cause food illnesses. If you do open or handle the product, remember to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds after handling it.
Step 4: Check the recall notice to find out what to do with the food.
When a manufacturer recalls a food product, they provide instructions on what to do with the product. Typically, the instructions will indicate that you need to do one of the following:
- Return the product to the store where you bought it for a refund.
- Dispose of the product properly so that other people or animals cannot eat it. (This is particularly important if you opened the product.)
The easiest way to check a recall notice is to go to our Food Recalls and Alerts page. The latest recalls appear in the orange “widget” in the top right corner of the page. If you want to keep up with all new recalls, you can:
- Subscribe to email updates: You’ll get a new email every time a food recall or allergy alert is issued.
- Follow our news feed: The feed contains the same information as the emails, but in a format that you can see in a news reader.
We also send out the major recalls and allergy alerts on our Twitter account, @foodsafetygov.
If you’d like to understand more about food recalls, see the new RecallBasics.org site sponsored by the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
When you take a recall back, should you print the notice so the store knows why? I went into a place and the clerks did not know if they should give me a refund, a credit or just take the stuff. The manager was on lunch and I could not wait 45 min. Should the staff know where recalls would be posted and their directions of what to do with items (This was when the dips were contaminated).
My Katty (A selvatic female cat) white skin syntoms of air or feed (water or/& food) sick consequences. You know, possibile this salmonella epydemia?