Food Recalls Get Smarter

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to change its policy on food recalls. The FDA will now start giving consumers more information about the stores where certain recalled products were sold. 

Published in partnership with The Supermarket Guru. 

Many retailers are not happy about the move because they fear that shoppers will shy away or even lay the blame on them – but that is short sighted. When it comes to food safety, we are talking about avoiding illnesses or death so the more information we can share with shoppers, and quickly, the better.

FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that “in most cases, information publicized by the recalling company is sufficient to allow consumers to identify and avoid the recalled product.”  But it often is not, especially when the affected product does not have a name brand or label, the FDA said. “This might include deli cheese, nuts, rawhide chews, or pet treats sold in bulk, and fresh fruits and vegetables sold individually," Gottlieb said.  

The FDA said it has already started naming retailers more often, for instance during an outbreak of salmonella that affected pre-cut melon in June.  

“The US Department of Agriculture has long made retailer names available for all recalls involving meat and poultry that pose a health hazard, but the FDA has traditionally resisted releasing this information in all but the rarest cases,” said Sarah Sorscher, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, in a statement posted on their website.

One example of bad policy is when the FDA refused to name retailers that had received potentially contaminated papayas involved in an outbreak of salmonella that killed one person and sickened 20.

"Knowing where a recalled product was sold during the most dangerous food recalls can be the difference between a consumer going to the hospital or not," Gottlieb said.

"While we can not prevent every illness, we can make sure we provide information to consumers to prevent more people from becoming sick from a recalled or hazardous food product."

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