by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center
Recalled Foods & Why It’s Important to Know
Why It’s Important to Know What Foods Have Been Recalled
Real-time notices of recalls and public health alerts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates beef, poultry, and processed egg products, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are listed at FoodSafety.gov. You can also get FDA and USDA recall information via the mobile app Food Recalls. To find a specific recall, you can scroll through all the items listed on the site or by category. You can also find information on the CDC website under foodborne outbreaks.
It is important that consumers be aware of recalls because recalled foods may cause injury or illness, especially for people who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems because of age, chronic illness, or medical treatment.
Recalls are very specific, meaning all information must match for a product to be considered part of a recall. If a product does not match all the information in the recall completely (brand, product name, use- or freeze-by date, EST number, etc.), then it is not considered part of the recall and is safe to use.
If the product details in the recall notice match the details on the food product you have at home, do not open or consume the product. You can return the product to the place of purchase for a refund, or you can dispose of the product following the instructions provided in the recall notice to make sure no one will consume it.
What is a Food Recall?
A food recall occurs when a food producer takes a product off the market because there is reason to believe that it may cause consumers to become ill. In some situations, government agencies may request or require a food recall. Food recalls may happen for many reasons, including but not limited to a discovery of organisms, including bacteria such as Salmonella or parasites such as Cyclospora. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic may be at increased risk for infection.
Food recalls may also happen when there is a discovery of foreign objects such as broken glass or metal in a product.
There are also recalls when there is a discovery of a major allergen that does not appear on the product label.
What is a Public Health Alert or Safety Alert?
A public health alert or a safety alert is issued to inform the public about potential health risks in food products. These are typically issued in cases where a recall cannot be recommended. For example, a Federal agency may be aware of an outbreak of foodborne illness, but the source has not yet been identified, or illnesses may occur due to improper handling of a particular product and the agency may issue an alert to remind consumers of safe food handling practices.
What to Do with a Recalled Product
A food product that has been recalled due to a possible germ contamination or illness can leave germs around your kitchen and contaminate surfaces, including the drawers and shelves in your refrigerator.
If you have already prepared a recalled food item in your kitchen or still have it in your refrigerator, it’s important to throw out the food and clean your kitchen.
Wash all cookware and utensils (including cutting boards) with hot soapy water.
Clear off counters and refrigerator drawers and shelves and wash them with hot soapy water.
Wipe contaminated surfaces, shelves, or drawers and rinse dishes and cookware with a sanitizing solution and let them air dry. You can use a diluted bleach solution (1 tbsp. unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water).
Products recalled due to an undeclared allergen put family members at risk with an allergy to that substance. If the product has not been served, then throw it away or return it for a refund. If the product has been served, wash with soap and water any surfaces—plates, pots and pans, utensils, and counters—that the product may have had contact with.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also posts food safety alerts and investigation notices for multistate foodborne disease outbreaks on its website.
A foodborne outbreak occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink. When an outbreak is detected, public health and regulatory officials work quickly to collect as much information as possible to find out what is causing it, so they can take action to prevent more people from getting sick.
This action includes warning the public when there is clear and convincing information linking illness to a contaminated food. Federal, state, and local officials may investigate an outbreak, depending on how widespread it is.
Separate government agencies are responsible for protecting different segments of the food supply. Your state or local public health agency may also list state-specific recalls and outbreak alerts on their websites.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have a Foodborne Illness?
Promptly reporting your illness helps your local or state health departments to identify foodborne outbreaks. Health departments track reports of illness and look for groups of people with similar illnesses who have eaten the same foods.
Sometimes, local or state health officials may interview you over the phone to find out what you ate and did in the week before you got sick. They may also ask for copies of receipts, your shopper card number, or leftover food for testing.
If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.